Executive director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados Reginald Farley (left) and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler at the conference. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
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Make a decision!
That is Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s call to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) on the proposed sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL).
Sinckler said the tardiness of the FTC was “jeopardising” the country’s economic plans.
The announcement that the BNTCL would be sold to regional petroleum giant Sol for US$100 million in January was halted by the FTC five months later, after a preliminary ruling recommended that the merger not be permitted. He was speaking at the Chartered Accountants of Barbados’ (ICAB) Annual Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The FTC found that sections of the proposed sale bid were unlawful.
This was after competitor Rubis secured an interim injunction after it took to the law courts challenging the sale.
Rubis argued that the sale would give Sol an unfair advantage and allow it to create a monopoly.
While revealing that the sale of Hilton Barbados resort was almost complete, Sinckler said he was concerned at the length of time it was taking for the FTC to make a ruling.
He said Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss was also of the same view and had written to the FTC calling for a judgment to be handed down.
Sinckler said the sale of both entities would help to boost the faltering foreign reserves.
“The first of these initiatives is to complete the sale of the Hilton and this I am suitably advised is at an advanced stage. Secondly, I believe the Minister of Commerce has indicated to the FTC that the issuing of its final decision on the sale of the BNTCL is now long overdue and must be done expeditiously, whatever that decision might be,” he said.
“It is simply taking way too long in my opinion and frustrating all parties involved and potentially jeopardising economic plans.
“However, just in case the chatteratti rushes off to claim that the Minister of Finance is somehow trying to influence the decision of this regulatory body in one direction or another, let me make it abundantly clear that at this stage I am less concerned with what its decision will be, than I am with the fact that after near nine months no decision has been made. Everybody involved in this process needs to know where the Commission stands so we can all move on,” Sinckler added.
Sinckler said if those sales were approved, Government was also discussing plans for a short-term US dollar loan which would help to bolster the foreign reserves.
“…If executed timely, it will give a one-time major injection into our reserves and give the country the breathing space to address the medium and longer term challenges with foreign exchange earnings and retention for the country as a whole, even as we move to restore our capacity to borrow externally at reasonable rates,” he said. (RB)