Finance Committee approves $800m for Energy Ministry

Motorists at the Unipet gas station in San Fernando. - Marvin Hamilton
Motorists at the Unipet gas station in San Fernando. - Marvin Hamilton

THE Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives approved a supplementation of $800 million for the Energy Ministry when it met at the Red House, Port of Spain, on Wednesday.

During the committee's deliberations, Energy Minister Stuart Young said this supplementation was in relation to the fuel subsidy.

Young said, "One of the responsibilities is for the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries to manage the fuel subsidy that is being provided for the people of TT for many years, along with consultation with the Ministry of Finance."

He added, "That is what this whole movement of the $800 million is all about."

Young said the $800 million supplementation was for National Petroleum Marketing Co Ltd (NP) and Unipet payments towards the fuel subsidy. There was a $300 million payment on July 29, 2022 and a $500 million payment on December 22, 2022.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told committee members that when he reported that the 2022/2023 budget had a surplus of $1.079 billion, these payments were taken into account.

Responding to questions from Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee about liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), Young said, "That $800 million was purely for fuel subsidy. Nothing to do with LPG."

Young also corrected Lee on an inaccurate fuel subsidy figure of $1.5 billion that he was referring to.

Drivers fill their vehicles with fuel at the NP gas station in Bon Accord, Tobago. - David Reid

"For the fiscal year 2022, the Government actually provided a subsidy of $1.67 billion, even though we had indicated earlier in the year that we would cap it at $1 billion."

He said, "It was felt that we would continue to provide that assistance to the population of TT, which worked out to be $670 million more, not including the substantial subsidy which is paid towards LPG."

Lee insisted the fuel subsidy figure was $1.5 billion for 2022.

"Does that take care of all the fuel subsidies for the year 2022?

Young was uncertain of what Lee was asking.

"The total subsidy for fuel paid for fiscal 2022 was $1.67 billion, not the $1.5 (billion) he keeps referring to. "

Young did not know where the "$100- almost $200 million disappears on the UNC side."

He reiterated that the $800 million does not include the subsidy on LPG which is approximately over $300 million annually.

Young said, "The ministry has been focused on ensuring that the people of TT, get the best possible returns from oil and gas, hydrocarbon resources."

The ministry, he continued, "has been cleaning up what has been left behind since 2015 (under the UNC-led People's Partnership coalition) and we have met with a great measure of success."

Young said recent negotiations the ministry was involved in have resulted in improved revenues for the people of TT.

"We have a number of initiatives in the pipeline, including negotiations that are about to take place with deepwater bid rounds."

Young was pleased that recent onshore and nearshore bids rounds were successful.


"Finance Committee approves $800m for Energy Ministry"

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