Put T&T in its place - MP says Jamaica should decide on leaving CARICOM

Published: Thursday | May 31, 2012 Comments 0
Karl Samuda
Karl Samuda

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

A STRIDENT Karl Samuda yesterday declared that Jamaica should make it clear to Trinidad and Tobago that it refuses to be a receptacle for its goods.

"Enough is enough. They must be made to understand that we are not their breadbasket. They are not here to reap the benefits and give nothing back to the country which supports it with the size of market that they need to survive," Samuda said.

The North Central St Andrew member of parliament, who served as the country's industry and commerce minister between 2007 and 2011, was making his contribution to the 2012-2013 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.

Samuda said Jamaica has not been benefiting from its membership in CARICOM and suggested that the country leave the bloc of Caribbean member states.

Yesterday, Samuda stopped short of accusing Trinidad and Tobago of cherry-picking member states to which it sells natural gas. He pointed to a recent article in the Trinidad Guardian which stated that the twin-island republic has entered into an arrangement to supply Barbados with the fuel.

The article states that under the arrangement, a 300-kilometre long pipeline would run from the Cove Point Estate in Tobago to Barbados, and would supply 30 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day to the primary customer, Barbados Light and Power Company.

The deal is expected to result in a significant lowering of energy prices for Barbados. The average cost of electricity in Barbados is approximately US 25 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), four times as much as Trinidad's (US six cents per kWh). Jamaica's energy cost is US 32 cents per kWh.

Last month, Jamaica's Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell told The Gleaner that the Government was "trying to see if there can be an agreement at this stage in relation to the supply of LNG".

Third attempt

The advance by the Government in April was the third time since 2004 that Jamaica was seeking to purchase LNG from Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2004 for the supply of 1.1 million tonnes of LNG per annum over a 20-year period for use by bauxite-alumina companies and the Jamaica Public Service Company power plants.

Despite the agreement, then Trinidad and Tobago prime minister, Patrick Manning, said his government would not renege on the agreement to supply Jamaica with LNG, but the arrangements never materialised as Trinidad said it did not have enough to supply.

"You better wake up and smell the roses and stop negotiating in those highfalutin air-conditioned boardrooms and start to protect the interest of Jamaica," Samuda told Industry and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton.

"I am asking that the minister with responsibility for industry, the minister with responsibility for energy, cause to be created a committee to explore all details relating to this matter," Samuda said.

"Jamaica (should) at one time stand up to Trinidad and say 'enough is enough!'"

Call for Treaty review

Samuda also wants a bipartisan review panel to review the Treaty of Chaguaramas as it relates to energy and trade.

"The question of the fact that they have been lucky to have endowment of oil does not remove their obligation as a member state to share that wealth," Samuda said.

Adamant that Jamaica does not appear to be benefiting from CARICOM, Samuda said "the time is running out on us to make that decision."

Last night, Hylton told The Gleaner that Jamaica continues to have dialogue with its CARICOM partners to find a solution to the problems.

He said the country has made it "very clear that the way in which CARICOM is being implemented is to Jamaica's disadvantage."

"We have demonstrated resolve that this has to be resolved," the minister said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com

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