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T&T Energy Chamber calls on gov't to maintain or increase oil and gas production

Published:Sunday | September 8, 2013 | 12:42 PM

PORT OF SPAIN,Trinidad, Sept. 7, CMC - The Energy Chamber, one of the most powerful groups in the country, has called on the Government to ensure that oil and gas production is maintained or increased each year.

The appeal was made as Finance Minister Larry Howai prepares to deliver the national budget in Parliament Monday.

In a release sent to the Trinidad Express newspaper on the weekend, the Energy Chamber said “One of the key questions on the public’s mind during discussions about the national budget is whether or not the country receives value for money from its oil and gas resources. It is well known that oil and gas taxation is the major contributor to overall Government revenue.”

According to the Energy Chamber , while the overall revenue figures are impressive, a key question for the public is, “Does the Government collect a fair portion of the overall revenue generated by the industry?”

The Chamber pointed to International comparisons of oil and tax regimes which strongly suggest that Trinidad & Tobago’s oil and gas sector operates within a high tax environment while the rest of the economy has a relatively low tax burden.

“Oil and gas companies have many levels of control to ensure all revenues due to the Government are paid, ranging from internal company procedures to international stock exchange regulation. Companies listed on major stock exchanges are also governed by the laws of the respective country where the company’s stock is traded, which also requires full compliance of the laws of the land in the countries where they operate” the statement added.

The Energy Chamber noted that oil and gas companies are aware that their businesses rely upon extracting resources that ultimately belong to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

“They are therefore comfortable with the idea that they need to be transparent with the citizens about how much tax they pay. For this reason oil and gas companies have been strong supporters of the Trinidad & Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (T&T EITI), playing an active role in the Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee and providing full data to the administrator hired to reconcile Government and company accounts and produce a report on oil and gas taxation.”

The Energy Chamber said it is convinced that Government revenue from the oil and gas sector is fairly set and fairly collected.

“If we wish to continue to receive this revenue we have to ensure that our oil and gas production is maintained or increased and this requires continued investment every year.”