T&T Gov’t to disclose financial position of Caribbean Airlines

Howai is due to inform the Senate on the airline’s finances over the period January to December 2012.

The Trinidad Express newspaper, which has been running a series of articles on the finances of the airline, reported Tuesday that the six-year-old state company has found itself managing a billion-dollar debt and having to write off millions in losses owing to mismanagement of the company’s cargo revenues and credit card fraud.

But CAL chairman Rabindra Moonan said the board has taken a decision and approved a transformation plan for the organisation and that while it is trying to move forward, it was stymied by the actions of disgruntled former employees who he blames for the leaks about the company’s financial state.

“It cannot be coincidence that now that the board has taken certain actions and there are certain more to come, that fires are being lit and people are using the media to advance a certain story about the company,” he said.

But Trade Minister, Vasant Bharath, who is also a Minister in the Ministry of Finance, said he’s “very concerned” about the national carrier.

Bharath said he is still awaiting reports requested from the company on several matters.

“We must be concerned with any organization which runs sub-optimally. This just shows that you need the right people in the right places,” he said.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said the airline was bleeding Trinidad and Tobago “like a chop neck”.

“Right now nobody knows what the Minister of Finance is doing by bankrolling CAL. All he is doing is giving them permission to go and borrow money short term. As of now we don’t know how much money they have borrowed and they writing off TT$200 million (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) and the CAL board is having a generally good time.

Rowley said the airline was now “absolutely bankrupt”.

Rowley recalled that the Arthur Lok Jack chaired board had left over $100 million in CAL’s account when it demitted office in 2010.

“Today they are borrowing $40 million by the piece. $40 and $50 million, paying high interest rates for short-term borrowing to keep the airline afloat, while the Minister of Finance is absolutely silent,” he added.

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