Monday 18 March, 2019

Finance Minister clarifies Prime Minister's figures on oil sector

Finance Minister Colm Imbert has rubbished claims by persons attempting to create an "unnecessary controversy" as it relates to figures released by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in his report to the nation with respect to income from oil companies in the comparable periods of fiscal 2014 and 2016.

Minister Imbert held a media conference at the Eric Williams Financial Complex on Wednesday to address reports that the Prime Minister was dishonest in quoting the figures. 

In the Prime Minister's defence, Imbert said correct figures for income of any year are quoted in figures two years after that.

He advised interested persons to visit the Finance Ministry's website under the tab 'Publications' where a list of documents will include estimates of expenditure, estimates of revenue, preliminary estimates and final estimates for respective years.

He noted that what these documents prove is that in 2014, the taxes on income and profits from the oil companies was $17B and in 2016 it was $1B.

"If you go now to the document that is being quoted by certain opposition elements such as Vasant Bharat, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Taharaqa Obika, they are attempting to dispute the Prime Minister’s figures by quoting from The Review of the Economy 2018, my document. They are trying to say that my review of the economy document disputes the Prime Minister’s figures, well that’s nonsense and it’s really unfortunate that they would keep repeating that nonsense," he said.

Handing out documents to journalists, Minister Imbert said the Prime Minister's statements were much less harsh than they could have been. 

"If you go into the review of the economy 2018, both appendix 20, it’s on page 99 of the Review of the Economy 2018, you see a row called ‘Current Revenue’ and then a sub item in that of which Energy Sector Revenue and it gives the total revenue of the energy sector and in fiscal 2014, the revenue from the energy sector as a whole was $28.06B and in 2016 fiscal, the revenue from the energy sector as a whole was $8.28B so if you look at the drop in energy sector revenue from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2018, it’s almost $20B so if the Prime Minister had quoted these figures instead, the situation would have been worse."

Minister Imbert expressed that what Dr Rowley did was take figures from the tax revenue. 

"If you look at the slide that he was referring to, it said Tax Revenue and the Tax Revenue dropped from $17B to $1B, a drop of $16B but if you take the overall energy sector revenue, it dropped from $28B to $8B, a drop of $20B, a much larger drop. So this might have even been a better illustration and then the old talk about how my figures dispute what the Prime Minister is saying would hopefully have not even had a life of five seconds."

"I thought I would give you these figures so that will debunk this old talk outside of there that we got more from the energy sector than the Prime Minister indicated. The people who are saying that are very disingenuously omitting to mention that the total revenue from the energy in 2014 was $28B. They looking at the lower so they saying the PM said it was $1B it was really $8B. But they not saying that if you compare apples and apples, you have to compare $8B and $28B and not $8B and $17B which is what they are trying to do. It is very disingenuous and ridiculous as far as I’m concerned."

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