|$200M fuel subsidy savings to fund highway |
By Andre Bagoo Tuesday, January 26 2016
IT SEE MS the fall in oil prices has a silver lining. Especially for the contractors on the Point Fortin Highway extension project.
Parliament yesterday approved the 2015 allocation of the sum of $200 million towards completion of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension, a sum which Finance Minister Colm Imbert said was derived from savings in the fuel subsidy due to fallen oil and gas prices.
“An increase of $200 million is being sought to retire an advance made from... treasury deposits to honor financial obligations associated with the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin Project since the agreed long-term financing arrangements under local and international markets have not yet been sourced,” Imbert told senators during debate of a procedural financial bill to close 2015 accounts.
He added that the funds were obtained from a reduction in the allocation for the Ministry of Energy.
“It should be noted that following a review of the 2015 accounts, savings were identified under the sub-item, ‘Subsidy – sale of petroleum products’. This was primarily because of the decline in oil prices and its ensuing impact on petroleum product prices at the refinery, which in turn caused a significant reduction in the subsidy,” the Minister of Finance said.
“In summary, the average oil price and the average price of petroleum products at the refinery were substantially lower than anticipated when the subsidy was determined for fiscal 2015, and this has realised a saving of $200 million which is now being credited to the Ministry of Works and Transport for the expenditure on the Point Fortin Highway.” Opposition Senator Wade Mark said the highway extension was a worthy project. “Despite the ramblings and negative insinuations concerning the management of this economy... the evidence is showing that the measures employed by the People’s Partnership were very appropriate, were very prudent and quite within the 2015 Budget allocation,” Mark said, speaking during the same debate. “This $200 million would have contributed to the improvement of the health, the reducing of stress, the provision of more family time, as people are able to get from one point to another in a very quick time, providing greater levels of recreation and relaxation to and from work.” The UNC Senator said the funds would also contribute to increased productivity. “It will also contribute to the lowering of transport costs, less fuel, less depreciation,” he said. “This highway seeks to open new economic spaces, increase jobs, revenues and taxes for our country. It will also contribute to an improvement in the quality of life, particularly for people who live in that region of the country.”