Government ministers praise PetroCaribe
Benefits to Jamaica's energy sector and improvement in the social life of many Jamaicans were some of the contributions that government ministers highlighted during the commemorative reception to mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, held on Monday.
On August 23, 2005, the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement was signed between Jamaica and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which allows some Caribbean territories to buy oil at market value but only pay a percentage of the cost upfront. The balance can be paid over 25 years at one per cent interest. For Jamaica, that upfront payment represents 60 per cent, but if the price of oil goes above US$100 per barrel, it slips to 50 per cent, with the other 50 per cent paid over 25 years.
State minister in the ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, lauded the Venezuelan government for being committed despite the economic challenges.
"You judge your friends not only in good times, but in bad times, and despite all the challenges that the Venezuelan economy has undergone in recent times it has maintained its commitment for all the parties involved," he told the gathering at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica's office in New Kingston.
"PetroCaribe has emerged as a critical component of our nation's transformation, which has rekindled the spirit of regionalism and solidarity. Jamaica has every right to be sentimental about this event. Our own Minister of Energy (Phillip Paulwell) and the government of the day were very instrumental in the promulgating of the agreement 10 years ago," he said.
He also pointed out that the social welfare of many Jamaicans has seen vast improvement under the agreement.
"Although PetroCaribe symbolises matters pertaining to oil and its derivatives, the agreement provides other significant benefits to Jamaica. The agreement conceptualised by the late President Hugo Chavez seeks to contribute to energy security of countries within our region, in addition to promoting our social and economic development," Robinson said.
"Despite our highly and somewhat divisive political culture, the PetroCaribe
agreement has enjoyed the support of both Government and Opposition during its
10-year-period. Successive political administrations can attest to the very positive impact that it has had on the Jamaican economy."
Finance Minister Peter Phillips echoed similar sentiments, noting that Jamaica's poor and vulnerable continue to benefit greatly under the agreement.
"Over the years, Jamaica has been a beneficiary of this energy corporation agreement, and indeed between then and now we have benefited from balance of payments and concessionary financing to the extent of close to US$3 billion. This figure represents the largest source of concessionary financing that has been available to the Government of Jamaica," Phillips said.
"Not only has it benefited our energy security but a number of social projects which continue to improve the quality of life for the Jamaican people. There is no doubt that we will be able to protect the conditions of life for the poor and vulnerable," he declared.