Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 4th 2017 Contents news A21
Thursday, May 4, 2017 guardian.co.tt
T&T/Venezuela yet to work out oil spill costs
T&T and Venezuela are yet to
work out the cost liabilities from
clean-up operations resulting
from the latest oil spill, Energy
Minister Franklin Khan said on
Replying to Opposition queries in
the Senate, Khan said the oil which
reached Venezuela last Sunday ema-
nated from the leak at Petrotrin's Tank
Number 70 the previous week.
That leak resulted in 300 barrels of
oil entering the Guaracara River and
the Gulf of Paria.
Khan said while the oil spill was
being cleaned up locally, oil was sub-
sequently sighted in Venezuela, near
the coastal town of Guiria.
A T&T/Venezuela Oil Spill plan with
Venezuela's Petroleos de Venezuela
(PDVSA) company was implemented.
That involved clean-up protocols
including provisions that Venezuela
would clean up any oil on its side.
He said T&T and Petrotrin were on
standby to help. A T&T team was due
to go to Guiria today or by tomorrow
to monitor the situation.
After Venezuela cleaned up the oil
there, he added, negotiations would
dictate the cost, where T&T and Ven-
ezuela stand on this and who handled
Khan said Tank Number 70 which
caused the spill, was one of seven
Petrotrin tanks listed for inspection
of leaks and other issues under a three
year risk analysis contract signed by
Petrotrin in 2016.
These seven were deemed critical.
He said two others---Tanks 182 and
183---were currently being cleaned.
Khan admitted asset integrity in
Petrotrin's refinery and exploration is
"one of Petrotrin's biggest challenges."
If necessary other tanks apart from
the seven will be added to the inspec-
Also in Senate, Works Minister Ro-
han Sinanan said the T&T Express and
T&T Spirt ferries would be dry docked
for various maintenance works in Sep-
tember and June respectively.
He said both were 20 and 15 years
old respectively and would have to be
The Port Authority was working
towards this, he said.
Financial crisis hits regional body
T&T prompt with $$ to UWI---Garcia
Education Minister Anthony
Garcia says the Government has
also been prompt in meeting its
financial commitments to The
University of the West Indies.
He was responding to statements
by UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary
Beckles that the failure of Caribbean
Governments to UWI could put the
future of the regional institution in
And Former Tertiary Education
Minister Fazal Karim says the former
People's Partnership Government
had honoured all its commitments
to the University of the West Indies.
Karim said he was aware that
some contributing countries were
not keeping up with their payments.
Sir Hilary said the more than
US$100 million in payments which
were long overdue, could result in a
dire financial outlook for the Cave
Hill campus in Barbados, the St Au-
gustine Campus in Trinidad and the
Mona Campus in Jamaica.
All Caricom countries according
to the charter would have agreed to
certain levels of contribution, but in
some cases they were not honouring
UWI's financial report for the year
ended July 2015 put the outstanding
debt at over US$105 m.
Of that T&T owed just under
US$19 m, Barbados owed US$65 m
and Jamaica just under US$500,000.
Garcia told the T&T Guardian
that as far as he was aware, T&T
had been prompt in its payments
to the University.
He said a large part of that mon-
ey was based on arrears that would
have accrued on the basis of salary
negotiations conducted by the West
Indies Group of University Teach-
ers (Wigut) and that had been dealt
Garcia said: "Financial matters
of the university are confidential."
But he said T&T had been making
its contributions. Those contribu-
tions are based on a number of fac-
tors including student enrolment,
which fluctuates from year to year.
"We also assist the University in
other ways," he said.
A report from a company con-
tracted to analyse the financial
health of the regional institution
pointed to the need for an annual
cash injection of US$75 m, failing
which the university could face sig-
nificant financial challenges.
Asked whether this country may
be called upon to increase its contri-
bution, Garcia said while the Gov-
ernment "stands committed to the
University of the West Indies, T&T
has been experiencing economic
challenges and we will have to de-
termine at the level of Cabinet what
our contribution will be bearing in
mind those economic difficulties."
Garcia said there was a Finance
and General Purpose Committee of
the University and they would have
to come up with innovative plans to
meet any financial shortfall.
It was for this reason, he said,
that the University had paradigm
shift in selecting a Chancellor, one
with experience in entrepreneurship
who will be able to come up with
programmes and ideas to make the
University less dependent on the
According to the 2015 report,
Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas,
Belize, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia,
St Vincent and the Grenadines, the
Turks and Caicos Islands, the British
Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands,
Dominica and Grenada all had out-
The T&T Guardian sent an email
to Sir Hilary seeking clarification on
the outstanding debt and the time-
line for repayment given the report
from a contracted company which
stated that unless the University gets
an annual injection of US$75 million,
the university could be in significant
However, the newspaper is still
awaiting a response.
Karim said in the case of the Debe
campus the former government
"gave the University half a billion
dollars up front, so there is no issue
with regard to financing."
He said the former government
paid Government Assistance for Tu-
ition Expenses programme (GATE)
for local students who attend all
three campuses "and we advised
that some of those monies be used
for infrastructural development in
the other campus territories."
Karim said in addition to infra-
structural development "that money
was also used for staffing."
He said the situation could be-
come one of increased concern
in August--September when the
university commences its the new
This, he said, is due to a number
of factors including the means test
for GATE where the money would be
given on a pro-rated basis and also
because of the level of unemploy-
ment in the country, "there may be
a reduced enrolment particularly at
St Augustine and by extension other
He said this would impact the fu-
ture viability of the financial posi-
tion of the University.
Garcia said "we will just have to
wait and see if there is a decline in
He said the Government had no
choice but to revise how they ap-
proached GATE and students who
lived in homes where the household
income was above TT$10,000 would
be subject to a means test."
An aerial image of UWI's campus in St Augustine.
Students from households where
the income is $10,000 or less- will
get 100% GATE funding.
Students from households where
the income is above $10,000 a
month but less than $30,000 will
be required to pay 25% of their tui-
tion fees, and students from house-
holds where the income is above
$30,000 a month will be required to
pay 50 per cent of their tuition fees.
REVISED GATE FEES
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