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Senator: End illegal fuel sale

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Senator: End illegal fuel sale

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PORT-OF-SPAIN – A Government legislator has accused un-named persons of making a tremendous profit by illegally selling fuel which is subsidized by the Trinidad and Tobago government to consumers in other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
David Abdullah, who is also president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN), said as a result, the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration must re-examine its TT$4.8 billion (BDS$1600 million) fuel subsidy as it prepares to present a new budget to Parliament.
Abdullah, a Government Senator, said that the gas subsidy is being exploited by non-nationals, some of whom are conducting an illegal trade on the high seas.
Speaking at a pre-budget seminar here on Thursday, Abdullah said that the government could save up to a billion dollars (BDS$332 million) annually if it is able to stamp out the corruption involved in the illegal trade.
 “It is our information that 80 per cent of the fuel for which the subsidy is paid, is diesel. And who uses diesel? Where does all the diesel go? It goes as marine fuel. So, the ‘yatchies’ when they sail out, are being subsidised by the tax payers,” he said.
He said vessels involved in the inter-island trade were also participating in the illegal sale of fuel.
 “What goes on is that some people fill up more than they need to get to where they are going, and when they get to where they are going, they will sell the fuel. They are not selling it at the price they paid here. They will sell it at the price in their country.
“Others are filling up and going on the high seas and selling the fuel at international market prices. They are filling up and going down to other CARICOM countries with barge loads of diesel and so we have vessels who are operating in the energy sector, providing services for international energy companies who are being subsidised with our taxpaying dollars.
“We at FITUN are saying that there is a need to have a re-examination of the subsidy that tax payers are paying to those who should not benefit from it, non nationals of Trinidad and Tobago, and we must cut out the corruption in that regard as well. 
“If they do that, we could save perhaps more than one billion [dollars], which the Minister of Finance could then use to deal with wages and salaries.”
Government is expected to present its 2011-12 national budget next month. (CMC)