Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has committed the Government to providing Paria Fuel Trading Company with "whatever financial support it requires" as the country’s sole imported of fuel.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the Minister said, “For the record, the Government fully supports the transformation and restructuring of Petrotrin and the new arrangements for the importation of fuel, and is providing, and will provide, the Paria Fuel Trading Company with whatever financial support it requires in the transition from a manufacturer of fuel to an importer of fuel.”
It must be noted that Paria Fuel Trading Company has never been a manufacturer of fuel as was stated by the Minister of Finance and since its start up has been an importer of fuel.
The Minister was responding to an exclusive article in the Trinidad Guardian in which Paria’s Chairman Wilfred Espinet said Paria needed to have the Ministry of Finance pay its fuel subsidy on time.
Espinet said, “Before the fuel is even loaded, we have to pay for it and the Ministry of Finance cannot expect to pay when it wants because this is a commercial enterprise. At the end of the day the decision to keep a limited fuel subsidy is a political decision and we are not responsible for that. Therefore, it is for the government to pay and we expect payment on a quarterly basis.”
Imbert tried to rubbish the story by claiming that he had a conversation in which the Chairman who assured him that the discussion with the Guardian painted a hypothetical situation and was not based on reality.
“It is the Ministry’s understanding that Mr Espinet had a conversation with the reporter involving theoretical “what-if” scenarios about what might or might not happen if funding is not made available to the Paria Fuel Trading Company on a timely basis.” The Minister said in his press release.
The Ministry of Finance is notorious for not paying its bills on time with the Ministry owing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid VAT refunds and up to the time of its closure having owed Petrotrin hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel subsidy.
- by Curtis Williams