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Howai: $100m loss for CAL

By piarco - Curtis Rampersad Publications Editor

State carrier Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is projecting a loss of just under $100 million for its financial year 2013, Finance Minister Larry Howai has said.
“CAL has had some struggles getting its accounts done, they should be able to bring them up in a couple of months. It hasn’t been very good news but they have narrowed the loss down,” he said.
Howai was speaking with reporters on Tuesday night after he delivered remarks at financial group RBC’s “Cocktails with Clients” event at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain.
“We are hopeful we can bring (CAL’s loss) down to less than $100 million,” Howai responded to a question from the Express. “The airline has a new CEO (Michael Dilollo who was appointed in May), there is some new management coming in and my next move is to strengthen the board (of directors).”
CAL’s board is chaired by former independent senator Philip Marshall.
Howai said he hoped the national airline could make a “full turnaround”.
He maintained that the airline industry worldwide was not an easy one.
“Every one of those (international airlines) has gone bankrupt at one time or the other so it is a challenge,” he said.
According to its financial statements for 2012, CAL’s losses moved from US$43,647,732 in 2011 to US$83,780,546 in 2012. 
Asked about the audit of the LifeSport programme, Howai said he expected to get the report by the end of the week after which he will start examining the details of the audit.
Another audit still being worked on centres around the First Citizens initial public offering.
He said he was informed by the Canadian auditors working on the project that it could take another two months because it involved lots of data, many questions and was time consuming.
He said the Securities and Exchange Commission was also working on the audit.
With regard to the upcoming national budget and if it could described as an “election budget”, Howai said he had not given any thought to it in that context.
“I have gotten suggestions and I have passed them on to the competent staff at the Ministry of Finance. I want to put together a package that will get support (from both sides of the government),” he said.
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