Young: Petrotrin drained Trinidad and Tobago’s forex, economy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Energy Minister and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.

Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young has dismissed claims that Petrotrin would have been able to reduce the fuel subsidy, noting that, in its last days, the refinery was losing more money than it was earning.

In August 2018, the Prime Minister announced that the company would be shut down noting that it was a drain on the national treasury rather than a contributor.

Citing the Lashley report of 2017 Dr Rowley highlighted the company’s deteriorating financial position with an estimated $11.4 billion in debt at the end of financial year 2015.

During his contribution on a debate to adopt the report of the standing finance committee in the Lower House on Monday afternoon, Young argued that the cost to import crude oil to maintain operations at the refinery alone was not economical.

He accused the Opposition of trying to deliberately mislead the country into thinking Petrotrin would be able to lower the fuel subsidy and contribute to the national economy.

Citing figures on the cost of crude oil importation, Young said there was no evidence to suggest the company could cover its own operating costs as lines of credit were set up with banks to get the necessary foreign exchange to meet monthly requirements.

“It’s a complete false proposition to suggest if the refinery was open the fuel subsidy would be lower and worse than that the people of TT need to know in order to pay for the significant volume of imported crude oil for the refinery Petrotrin drew down on average US$650 million a year in short term debt.

“Petrotrin was drawing down an average of US$650 million a year to buy crude oil to out into the refinery.

“How does that equate to a net foreign exchange earner?

“In other words, they were taking taxpayers’ money, US$650 million a year and spending it to purchase crude to put into the refinery.”

Responding to reports that the company up until its closure was still profitable, Young said this was barely the case as it would not have been able to sustain long-term operations.