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Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Franklin Khan

Opposition Chief Whip David Lee has called out Energy Minster Franklin Khan’s performance, saying a commission of enquiry into Petrotrin is needed – but Khan says the Government’s restructuring of Petrotrin is an epic turnaround story.

“(Restructuring) has been a corporate turnaround of epic proportions, if I may say boastfully, this is a corporate turnaround case study for Harvard Business school, very rarely do you see that,” Khan said, rebutting Lee’s comments in Parliament yesterday.

Lee piloted a motion citing loss of confidence in Khan’s performance with the energy sector. Calling for an enquiry on Petrotrin, he said things didn’t add up especially since there were positive statements on Petrotrin in the 2017 Budget.

He said Petrotrin fenceline communities cannot have confidence in Khan after Khan’s supervision of the sector. He said the Pt Lisas Industrial sector was “decimated” by Khan’s tenure.

Lee who said NGC made its first loss under Khan, listed companies that closed and cited declining gas production. He quoted at length from the Business Guardian and other articles critical of Khan.

He said he wasn’t aware of a recent Business Guardian article until Thursday night.

“We’re having Forex issues because of Khan’s non-performance!” Lee added. He said Khan, “didn’t have the energy to run Energy.”

Lee who displayed respiratory issues was halted by Attorney General and San Fernando West MP Faris Al-Rawi who said he appeared to have flu-like symptoms and asked if Lee should be in the chamber. House Speaker Bridgid Annisette- George said members knew the protocols and are tested. Lee said he’d had a COVID-19 test and was COVID –free.

Khan: Heritage, Paria profitable

Khan said he took full responsibility for the sector through “good and not so good times”. He said the UNC only focused on the negative and if Lee disliked his PNM opponents, he shouldn’t dislike TT.

“There’s more significant at stake than PNM or UNC when people don’t see this, the country goes nowhere,” Khan added.

Khan said the dynamics of this sector isn’t run in TT but is shaped by international actions and this country was fortunate to have key major players like BP, Shell, BHP and EOG here. He said the country was at the market’s mercy if energy prices are down.

He said if left unattended Petrotrin would have had a systemic impact on the country. He noted its $10 billion debt, its (US)$850 million bond due in 2019, owing $3 billion worth of taxes, having 50 per cent of costs due to staffing and where oil had to be imported with losses on every barrel.

Khan noted the restructured Petrotrin took the situation from an annual $2 billion losses to profits from Heritage and Paria Fuel Trading’s first years and tax payments, plus Heritage is servicing Petrotrin’s debt. He said local crude is now outselling Galeota crude and the Government’s returning to open market on the Guaracara refinery after the failed Patriotic bid.

Khan who noted deficiencies in the sector under the UNC’s tenure said Pt Lisas’ problems arose with the drop in methanol and urea prices in previous years and had nothing to do with the Government. He noted plants have closed globally.

Khan said the motion against him would fail just like those debated against other government ministers.