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Fri 19th Dec 2014

Will death of PetroCaribe mean ULP regime cuts thousands of government jobs?

PetroCaribe was founded in 2005, by the then President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. The aim was to get a number of poor countries to buy Venezuelan oil on preferential terms with a 20 years grace period and build an alliance with Venezuela.

PetroCaribe (SVG) Limited was formed on 17 October 2005 and registered as a private company on 03 November 2005.

It is believed that VINLEC buys oil from Venezuela and pays PetroCaribe (SVG) Limited about $6 million every month. Since the end of 2005, approximately $648m has been paid to PetroCaribe (SVG) Limited ($6m x 12 months x 9 years =$648m).

It is difficult to exactly verify the total amount as access to PetroCaribe (SVG) Limited financial statements has been denied, and although the Freedom of Information Act 2003 was signed by His Excellency the Governor General of SVG in December 2003, the Act has not been gazetted by Gonsalves to become law.

It is also believed that money paid to PetroCaribe (SVG) Limited has been used to help pay wages of government workers, which in 2014 amounted to $271,417,887 (source: SVG Budget Estimates 2014).

There is much concern that the death of PetroCaribe means the ULP regime will cut thousands of government jobs? The ULP regime’s begging bowl has dried up: Gaddafi of Libya is dead; Chavez of Venezuela is dead; Chen of Taiwan is in jail; Manning of Trinidad and Tobago was voted out of office; Badawi of Malaysia was voted out of office.

The begging bowl has gone and Gonsalves, who is not a university graduate in finance, has been incompetent in managing SVG’s financial affairs. Will the ULP regime sell VINLEC or the Port Authority, or be forced to follow Barbados and cut thousands of government jobs?

According to the SVG Budget Estimates 2014, the ULP government’s recurrent expenditure is $654,441,101. Now that PetroCaribe is dead, where will this money come from?

The reliance on PetroCaribe has unnecessarily syphoned millions of dollars out of Vincentian households and the SVG economy. Oil is expensive and the continued use of oil to generate electricity has drained the economy with a high fuel surcharge and high electricity prices.

To keep more money circulating within SVG and in householders’ pockets, SVG should have turned to renewable energies at least 10 years ago to produce electricity. This would have made electricity cheaper.

PetroCaribe has been bad for SVG. The SVG economy is very weak. A Green government will bring competent financial management and create revenue to save government jobs and create thousands of new jobs.

We will build a billion dollar tuna fishing and canning industry, build factories for agro-processing, set up a renewable energy industry, set up a water exporting industry, boost small businesses and the manufacturing sector and abolish the multi-million dollar tax exemptions given to Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan.

The death of PetroCaribe could have serious consequences for SVG under the financially incompetent ULP regime. The present SVG Minister of Finance, Gonsalves, is utterly hopeless at managing the public accounts. It is crucial that the electorate vote for regime change. A Green government would bring stability by increasing our exports, reducing our imports and creating economic growth and revenue.

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