Former Finance Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips is defending the former PNP administration’s handling of the Energy Stablisation Fund, ESF.

The ESF is comprised of monies collected from an additional $7 tax on gasoline, which was to be used to purchase an insurance policy or hedge to protect the country from sharp increases in the price of oil on the global market.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw stunned the nation yesterday, when he disclosed that the ESF is essentially empty.

The JLP had announced in its election campaign that it intended to use money from the ESF to fund an income tax break for people earning less than $1.5-million per annum.

The revelation means the government will have difficulty fulfilling that campaign promise, ahead of the intended implementation date of April 1.

Speaking on Nationwide This Morning, Dr. Phillips explained that the Stabilisation Fund was actually in debt to the government’s bank account, the Consolidated Fund.

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The JLP administration had expected to access about $3-billion from the ESF this financial year and up to $6.4-billion next year.

Dr. Phillips says up to the end of December, about $4-billion would have accumulated in the fund.

However, at least $3-billion spent on the oil hedge as an advance, would have to be subtracted from that amount.

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Nationwide News has requested a breakdown of the balance in the ESF from Financial Secretary, Devon Rowe.