Tuesday 20 August, 2019

MP on Trinidad Petroleum's US$1.4B loan: Why the secrecy?

Photo: Petrotrin's 'Cat Cracker'  in an undated photo shared in 2017. Photo via Petrotrin/Facebook.

Photo: Petrotrin's 'Cat Cracker' in an undated photo shared in 2017. Photo via Petrotrin/Facebook.

Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee expressed alarm at a recent Reuters report that Trinidad Petroleum Holding Ltd was in the process of securing US$1.4 billion in loans from local and international banks.

In a statement issued March 14, Lee said the lack of information on this development was 'outrageous'.

According to a report from Reuters news agency, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings intends to use funds borrowed from Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Panamanian trade bank Banco LatinoAmericano de Comercio Exterior (Bladex), First Citizens Bank and Ansa Merchants Bank , to cover the US$850 million bullet bond payment in August.

Sources said the loans are to cover the costs of the refinery's closure, including severance packages for 1,700 retrenched workers as well as the US$850 million bond payment which is due to mature in August 2019.

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Speaking briefly on the matter at Thursday's post-Cabinet briefing, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said he could not comment on the matter but acknowledged the report, saying that things were 'going very well'. 

It is beyond outrageous that the only way the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago found out about these loans was via a foreign news service. Meanwhile, we still haven’t heard anything from Trinidad Petroleum Holdings, nor the Minister of Energy on the matter," he said.

He said this is indicative of the 'culture of incompetence and secrecy that pervades everything this government does...it is simply unacceptable”.

Lee also reminded the public that in 2017, Petrotrin had a plan to refinance its debt with the help of First Citizens Bank but this offer was never considered or executed by the current administration.

"The UNC has always maintained that nothing would change with the closure of Petrotrin. The only​ thing that has changed is that over 9000 workers and their families have had their lives torn apart due to the closure of Petrotrin," he said. 

Lee said Opposition and the rest of the country now awaits the response from credit ratings agencies and the impact that this will have on the country international reputation.

The company also has a US$218.75 million outstanding on a note which matures in May 2022. 

The sources told Reuters the restructuring would put the company in a 'better position'.

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