Two state entities in merger talks, as BNTCL goes up for sale
The National Petroleum Corporation (NPC) and the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOC) are set to merge.
The announcement from BNOC’s General Manager Winton Gibbs to employees during an emergency staff meeting earlier this evening at their Woodbourne, St Philip office, called to clarify media reports and soothe tensions over the future of the state-owned oil company.
While no date has been set for the merger, Gibbs reported that representatives of the two entities were currently in talks about the amalgamation, but he gave no details. He, however, promised to update staff on the process going forward.
The NPC currently has a stake in the BNOC, which has more than 100 employees.
In his 2013 Budget, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler had stated that 18 government entities were in line for a merger or elimination. He had also said then, that a team of senior officials in the Ministry would conduct a preliminary assessment of statutory entities currently funded by Government and make recommendations for their reorganization.
Today, staff were also given some insight into plans to sell the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL), which is a subsidiary of the BNOC group. Gibbs reported that the move would result in some level of displacement.
When contacted, a senior official of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) said the BWU had not been officially informed of the developments, adding that all information they had been receiving so far had “fallen off a truck”. However, staff members reported to Barbados TODAY that Gibbs had also provided an update to them on a bid made by BNOC for an oil field in Barrackpora in south Trinidad for which a decision was still pending.
The developments follow yesterday’s disclosure by Sinckler in the House of Assembly, as he led off debate on the 2014-2015 Estimates Of Revenue And Expenditure, that Government would be looking to “offload” the BNTCL on the open market and raise $70 million for the assets.
The move, Sinckler said, was in an effort to reduce the deficit to 5.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
He also announced a tax applied to bank assets last year would be extended to all financial institutions effective April 1, 2014, the same date that a 20 cent increase in excise tax on gasoline will take effect.
“Of these two revenue enhancing measures Government expects a minimum of $123 million to come into the Consolidated Fund by the end of March 2015. It means therefore that the additional $123 million in new revenue enhancements will provide adequately for the $105 million shortfall in the additional adjustment to reach the target of 5.5 per cent of GDP. It will also mean that Government will have to look for $145 million less to finance its fiscal deficit from the projections which are contained in the financial estimates document. So we feel reasonably confident that we would have been able to reach our expected targets in relation to the deficit document,” Sinckler said.