HUGE RESPONSIBILITY: Dr Ralph Henry

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Henry is Heritage Fund head

 Dr Ralph Henry has been appointed as the new chairman of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, the Ministry of Finance announced yesterday.

Henry has been a lecturer at The University of the West Indies and has worked as a consultant to a number of regional and international organisations which include the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, the World Bank and the Caricom secretariat. 

He was also appointed the first chairman of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, the ministry said in a statement. 

Henry replaces Avyann Ferguson who was appointed to chair the fund’s board of governors for a three-year term from 2010-2013.

While congratulating Henry on his appointment, Finance Minister Larry Howai emphasised yesterday that the objective of the fund is to efficiently and effectively manage the nation’s excess wealth derived from the oil and gas revenues so as to:

1. Cushion the impact on or sustain public expenditure capacity during periods of revenue downturn whether caused by a fall in prices of crude oil or natural gas;

2. Generate an alternative stream of income so as to support public expenditure capacity as a result of revenue downturn caused by the depletion of non-renewable petroleum resources; and

3. Provide a heritage for future generations of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago from savings and investment income derived from the excess petroleum revenues. 

“As at September 2009, the fund recorded a Net Asset Value of US$2,964 million. Some four years later, the Net Asset Value of the fund has almost doubled surpassing its critical benchmark of US$5 billion for the first time since the fund’s inception to stand at US$5,154 million.” he said in the statement. 

He added, “Despite the challenges facing the global financial markets, financial year income has risen significantly over the years to US$312.776 million at the end of September 30 2013 from US$35.80 million as at September 30 2009.” 

Speaking on the amendments to the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund Act 2007, Howai noted that the changes being proposed consisted of, among others:

1. Increasing the floor of the fund;

2. Extending the delivery period for Quarterly Investment Reports;

3. Increasing the authority of the board; and 

4. Extending the timeframe for meeting withdrawal requests. 

The Heritage and Stabilisation Act 2007 was established for the primary purpose of saving and investing surplus petroleum revenues derived from the production business. The Net Asset Value of the fund refers to the value of the fund’s assets less the value of its liabilities at a given point in time, the ministry noted.

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