Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Franklin Khan said he was not impressed or moved by the no-confidence motion brought against him and defended his performance in managing the affairs of TT’s energy sector.
Khan responded to criticisms from Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee during Friday’s sitting of the Lower House, where he accused Khan of non-performance in the energy sector and mismanagement of state assets which led to declining revenues from oil and gas.
He also noted that even as market prices remain outside the control of the government, he insisted that he did his best to manage expenditure while meeting the demands of stakeholders.
Referring to challenges facing the National Gas Company (NGC) in terms of productivity, Khan said the current administration had to work with major challenges in several state entities.
“When the PNM returned to office in 2015 the (energy) industry was saddled with some major challenges. There was declining production in both oil and gas and this was driven largely by low levels of upstream investment.
“There were outstanding contract negotiations between the NGC’s upstream suppliers and downstream gas contracts, the latter led to major claims on the NGC to the tune of US $750 million.
“Under this administration we have reduced those claims to a mere $363 million.”
Khan also attacked the sources of Lee’s criticisms as newspaper articles noting that most times journalists did not understand the dynamics of the energy sector well enough to be used as a point of reference.
Responding to Lee’s criticisms over the government’s closure of Petrotrin, Khan said such a decision was necessary to avoid long-term strain on TT’s economy.
“Petrotrin had a $10 billion debt and a bullet payment of US$850 million was due on November 2019.
“Where were they getting that money from?
“At that time Petrotrin was owing the state unpaid taxes and royalties of $3 billion.
“This one takes the cake, staff salaries made up 50 per cent of its operating cost and more importantly the company had to import 100,000 barrels of oil a day and for every barrel you refined you were losing US $5. You were importing oil to lose money.”
In his rebuttal Khan also noted that while he accepted responsibility as the Minister of Energy, he felt the no-confidence motion was without merit.