Lee: Imbert must be honest about Trinidad and Tobago’s revenues

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

David Lee File photo/Sureash Cholai

Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee is calling on Finance Minister Colm Imbert to tell the country what its true revenue position is, considering falling oil and gas prices internationally.

Speaking during the party’s Monday Night Report on Monday at the Macaulay Community Centre, Hermitage Road, Claxton Bay, Lee called on the minister to be “honest.”

“Today the price of gas on the international market is US$2.63, Imbert based his budget on gas at US$6. The price of oil today is US$74.69. Imbert has based his budget on a figure of US$92.50 and when Senator (Wade) Mark asked him about these falling energy prices, Imbert talked about “well we have a basket (formula).”

Lee was referring to a question posed to Imbert by Mark in the Senate on February 28.

Mark said, “”The motion before us is for the Government to provide this country with the effect of the decline of the price of natural gas prices on the 2023 budget and on TT’s economy.”

“The budget was set in terms of natural gas at US$6 per MM BTU and in the case of crude oil it was set at US$92.50 per barrel.”

At the time, Mark said his latest check had found the WTI price at US$76.81, Brent Crude at US$83.89 and natural gas at US$2.77.

Mark claimed “a major economic hurricane is brewing” that could have catastrophic consequences for TT’s economy and society.

In response, Imbert said, said the Prime Minister’s work to travel to meet oil and gas companies, supported by Energy Minister Stuart Young, meant TT’s gas was not sold at the Henry Hub price.

“That was the UNC way. What the Keith Rowley Government did was immediately negotiate new formulas for the derivation of revenue for the country and the people of TT.”

Imbert said Rowley and Young had negotiated so that TT’s natural gas was sold to local petrochemical manufacturers at a price that reflected the price fetched by ammonia and methanol.

“So if you don’t know and you just go on the internet and see that Henry Hub is US$2.77, you would simply be completely oblivious to the fact that we get revenue in a completely different way.”

He said data showed TT was holding its own and nowhere near to the spectre of collapse suggested by Mark.

On Monday night, Lee said, “I want to tell Imbert: you could use whatever basket formula to collect gas prices, the reality is oil and gas prices have fallen internationally.

“In a few weeks time, they will have to come back to Parliament to do a mid-year review budget and we are waiting for them. Imbert must be honest with the country and tell us what is the true revenue position of this country with declining oil and gas prices.

Lee said Imbert should face the facts and stop carrying citizens down a road of false hope as it relates to energy prices.