Rowley: Improved oil, gas revenue will be used to pay debts

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In an attempt to temper expectations coming out of the windfall from additional revenue from the increase in price of oil and gas, the Prime Minister said additional revenues were not insignificant, but on the other hand it was not a boom.

He was responding to questions from the media at a post-Cabinet press conference in Port of Spain on Thursday, following energy minister Stuart Young’s appearance at the “Quest Means Business” news supplement on CNN.

Although TT will benefit from higher revenues, Dr Rowley suggested the nation was being hindered from significant benefits because of low production.

“The real problem we are having now is that this good price in the marketplace is happening at a time where we are at our lowest production,” he said. “If you have a nice price and you have low volume you might get a little more but you are not getting significantly more as if you are a major producer, because our production is low.”

He raised the point that TT’s oil and gas fields are mature, and that contributed to lower production.

Rowley, however, said whatever additional revenue earned from the higher prices would be used to recover from a “large basket of debt,” citing large deficits and covid19 as reasons for national debt. He suggested that the government would be responsible and place priority on paying off short-term debt.

“It is helpful because, as you know the budget of 2016, we had a $13 billion deficit.

We had to find $13 billion to keep body and soul together in 2016, and that was done through borrowing. We had a little less going forward until we got to covid19.”

“So if we have more revenue or some improvement on the revenue side, the first call is to make us a little better off on the debt side. Some of these debts are short-term debts. Prudence would require that you treat with them as such because short-term debts are expensive debts.”

Young, on Quest Means Business, said revenues would be used to contribute to education and “other things that are necessary for the people.”

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