GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Guyana is examining a proposal by Venezuela to set up a PetroCaribe Economic Zone (PEZ), which was proposed at the recently concluded ministerial meeting of PetroCaribe and the summit of heads.
Speaking after attending the summit in Venezuela, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said, “The (PEZ) is intended to deepen the progress made by the Organisation, with a view to developing the production sectors of member states, based on the linkage of production chains which would generate economic surplus and would make cooperation sustainable in the context of PetroCaribe.”
The PetroCaribe fund was created by Venezuela in 2005 to sell fuel to Latin American and Caribbean countries at cheaper prices and help back their oil infrastructure projects. Its beneficiaries are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
The neighbouring government has affirmed its commitment to the PetroCaribe Initiative, and expressed satisfaction with the progress made thus far by this integration mechanism. They also recognised the need to reinvigorate and strengthen the PetroCaribe and ALBA energy cooperation schemes, and acknowledged the results attained through fair trade while encouraging the working group to continue with the effective implementation of the oil bill compensation handbook.
With regards to fair trade mechanisms, Hinds said, “There has been this proposal that countries could meet some or all of their finance portions of their oil purchases by selling goods to Venezuela. Guyana is already taking advantage of this as it sells rice to the neighbouring country.”
Hinds said that all attendees agreed to convene the Council of Ministers of Economy and other government cooperation areas related to the development of the PEZ.
The prime minister also mentioned the proposal to start technical studies and discussions for the creation of the system of PetroCaribe Bilateral Integration Funds (FOBIP), as a financial mechanism for production linkages and trade revitalisation under the PetroCaribe Regional Development Mechanism. The Bank of ALBA would be the financial institution which would support the design of projects and the management of the funds of PetroCaribe.
The issue of growing debt should be thought of in terms of better use of the fuel supplies being made available, said the prime minister. He noted that this issue was raised at earlier meetings since 2003. “If we didn’t use any fuel, then there wouldn’t be any debt”.
He added that former Cuban President Fidel Castro had raised the issue of the rate at which the world was using petroleum fuel, which was unsustainable, and that due to climate change, nations needed to reconsider their lifestyles and use more alternative sources of energy.
The debt which is given to member nations at preferential rates is intended to offer them, “some breathing space”, according to the prime minister, and allow them to adjust to the uses of renewable energy programmes. The preferential rates of payment would also enable countries to use their scarce funds to develop various aspects of their own sectors.