Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
December 07 2007 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Thursday that the Venezuela Petro Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement recognises the need for urgent assistance in the fight of Caribbean societies to cope with the high price of fuel and the need to urgently transform Caribbean societies.
Speaking at a ceremony on Thursday to mark the delivery of nearly 7,000 barrels of diesel, Prime Minister Douglas said the agreement compliments other strategies to cushion the effects of such high oil prices on the lives of ordinary men and women in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Venezuelan Petro Caribe arrangement is a catalyst for the introduction of alternative approaches to market access, product distribution and retail, and the correction of the various pricing inequities that prevail through creative business and financial arrangements and social programmes,” he said.
Dr. Douglas said that recognizing the diversity of energy resources among Caribbean countries, the continued importance of petroleum and natural gas as fuels and the capabilities of the different countries, “it is inevitable for us to conceive the development of Petro Caribe as a multilateral framework that reflects shared social responsibility among the countries which make up the membership.”
“This is being pursued through an exchange of experiences that facilitate the transfer of benefits to the less favoured social sectors member countries. This I am very certain will include provision for the establishment of bilateral, multilateral and commercial arrangements that could foster investments in exploration and production activities such as refining, transportation, storage, distribution and the retailing of petroleum products,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
According to the St. Kitts and Nevis leader, the receipt of Petro Caribe Fuel however, does not make the fuel any cheaper, but it provides flexible financing mechanisms and compensations to enable the government to develop a variety of social programmes that would improve the quality of life of our people particularly the elderly and single household families.
“Freight expenses arising from these operations will be charged at cost price, thus representing additional savings from this agreement. Furthermore, there is a guaranteed direct trade relationship without intermediaries in the supply process, an arrangement that shall assist in generating additional savings, not to mention the construction of the storage facilities and terminals that will be owned and controlled by the government upon completion,” said Dr. Douglas, who pointed out that the flexible payment for the fuel will take the form of either long term financing, short term financing or deferred payments from the fuel from Venezuela through the Petro Caribe Agreement.
“I should also advise of course that we will be benefiting enormously from this particular arrangement as we would now have money saved although to a large extent it is a long term loan but money would be made available that would be put in the financing of social development programmes which our people must benefit from,” Prime Minister Douglas said.
He pointed out that St.Kitts and Nevis uses huge quantities of diesel in its generating division and the overall operation of projects and that the increasing cost of crude oil on the world market and the gradual erosion of revenue generating bases resulting from globalisation and trade liberalisation have forced small islands like St.Kitts and Nevis to take full advantage of treaties, conventions and protocols aimed at fostering conditions to improve the quality of life of its people.
“This evening I emphasize that Petro Caribe, the invention of Hugo Chavez, the great Socialist Leader of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is one of those agreements that will bring untold benefits to St. Kitts and Nevis and to other people of the Caribbean region. Let us Salute President Chavez great Socialist Leader of Venezuela,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The ceremony included remarks by the Charge de Affaires of the Embassy of Venezuela, Mr. Nelson Comacho; the Managing Director of PDVSA, Mr. Luis Rivas; Minister of Public Works, Utilities, Transport & Post, Dr. the Hon. Earl Asim Martin.