Venezuela unconcerned about PetroCaribe debt

Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez has said that her government is not concerned about the PetroCaribe debt that is owned by the government of Antigua & Barbuda.

“We are working on the framework of PetroCaribe to give people a chance to be more independent and happier. So we’re working on the framework of Petro Caribe and we’re going to keep working on that,” Rodriguez said.

She also noted that the falling price of oil on the world market would not affect the company, citing that her government has bigger plans for the arrangement.

Under the Petro Caribe arrangement, the government generally pays only 60 per cent of market value for oil upfront. The remaining 40 per cent is converted into a concessional loan to be repaid over a 25-year period at a 2 per cent annual interest rate. The savings are made used to fund social programmes.

In September 2014, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that the country’s debt to PetroCaribe had reached $375 million.

He said the debt represented a major burden for the government.

The foreign minister, who was on island yesterday to sign two agreements between her government and Antigua & Barbuda, also brought with her commendations from the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

Antigua & Barbuda recently supported Venezuela when the US brought sanctions against officials in the South American country, for what President Barack Obama termed as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

“You have given support to Venezuela and we would really like to thank you,” she said. “As you know, these international sanctions are absolutely awful regarding the international law, so we have repealed this executive order,” she said.