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CL Marine

Curtis Williams

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Government recovered $119 million of the debt owed to it by Clico when it acquired CL Marine according to Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

Winding up debate last evening in the Lower House on the 2021 budget, Imbert said the acquisition was both strategic and meant to collect some of the outstanding money owed to taxpayers arising from the Clico bailout.

“It is part of the debt recovery from CLICO and through the acquisition of CL Marine we have been able to get an asset valued at $119 million Madame Speaker. So we have in effect recovered $119 million of taxpayers money through the acquisition of CL Marine.” Imbert boasted.

It is the first time the Minister has said what the company was valued at. In the past he has only indicted the reason from the purchase.

Yesterday Imbert reminded the Parliament that government had purchased two fast ferries for the Trinidad/Tobago route, both are nearing the end of construction in Australia. T&T also has on order two cape class military vessels being constructed by Austal and due to arrive in 2021. The Coast Guard has a number of other vessels all of which the Finance Minister said would benefit from the purchase.

He said; “One of the strategic purposes of this acquisition is to consolidate the repair of our marine fleet at a single location at the dockyard in Chagaramas.”

Imbert added: “The third objective is diversification because ship building and ship repair is one of the areas we have earmarked for diversification.”

In a news release last month Imbert said Government bailed out the CL Financial Limited Group of Companies in-excess of $28 Billion and it being the largest creditor, filed a winding up petition in the High Court in July 2017.

Following this, in September 2017, the High Court ordered that CL Financial Limited be wound up under the provisions of the Companies Act and that the international accounting firm, Grant Thornton, be appointed Liquidators.

He added as a result of the Court Order and in keeping with this Government’s diversification thrust for Trinidad and Tobago in the targeted area of ship building and ship repairs, the Government pursued the acquisition of CL Marine Limited and its subsidiaries with the Liquidators, and created the National Marine and Maintenance Services Company Limited, a new wholly owned State enterprise for this purpose.

Having completed the acquisition, the Government recently appointed an interim Board of Directors, pending a permanent board, comprised of senior public officials, with an immediate mandate to implement a proper governance structure according to the Companies Act and the State Enterprise Performance Monitoring Manual and a partnership with a strategic private sector company, such as an experienced shipbuilder, will be explored in due course.