CASTRIES, St Lucia, May 1, CMC – President of the St Lucia Petroleum Dealers Association (SPDA) Clinton Charlery says that while global conditions dictate that the island consider all available avenues to meet the national energy demand at cost efficient levels, he is nonetheless cautioning government about fully embracing the Venezuela-led Petro-Caribe oil initiative.
Speaking ahead of next week’s presentation of the annual budget address Charlery said that the Kenny Anthony administration needs to be careful about taking any rash decisions about aligning with the initiative under which Caribbean countries purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. It was launched in June 2005.
“This is a decision that government ought to have met with us to discuss and we as a group really cannot discuss the matter unless we are given the facts, we must have the details of what governs the arrangement.
“The little that I know about the initiative is that it originates in Venezuela and they too are a part of OPEC and the fact that prices are arranged by OPEC means that if at all they offer us gas lower than what is being sold on the world market, it would either have to be in the form of a loan, a grant, or whatever…
“For sure I know it is not a grant so it will most likely be a loan. But what concerns me is that what is the condition under which we enter into this arrangement, because we certainly don’t want to end up in a situation like Grenada (in their arrangement with Taiwan),” Charlery said.
Charlery said that the Petro Caribe conditions need to be scrutinized closely and other stakeholders like the business community should have been invited to weigh in before any decision was arrived at.
He however supported the earlier announced government decision to absorb 50 per cent of the cost of the recent petroleum increase, commending it also for honouring the former administration’s agreement with the dealers for their marginal increases.
“We are working with less than five per cent when our margin increase is over 10 per cent recognizing that we have a responsibility to carry on our business the former administration was unable to give us the full amount at the time so they give it in two tiers, part last year and the remainder this year.
“So the incoming administration had a responsibility to honour the arrangement which they did, we did in fact speak to them about it and a provision has been made in the estimates,” Charlery said.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony is expected to announce plans for St. Lucia to become part of the Petro Caribe initiative when he presents the 2012/13 budget address on May 8.