Minister Responsible for PetroCaribe, Reginald Austrie, is defending government’s decision for signing the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement with Venezuela 10 years ago.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and late President Chavez signed that agreement on June 29th, 2005, which provide Dominica with liquid petroleum gas, gasoline and diesel at a discounted rate.
Austrie, who was addressing the 10th Anniversary of the PetroCaribe media launch on Monday, said although there were serious criticisms surrounding that agreement, Dominica has benefited tremendously.
“As you may recall when the agreement was signed by our Prime Minister in 2005, those of you who recall there were very serious negative comments that were hurl at the programme, not only locally but regionally and internationally also,” he stated. “You heard things like it was an alliance against the United States of America, you heard also that the Americans would be so upset with us that our people no longer would be able to go to Barbados to get their visas to travel, you also heard issues of the debt that would be incurred by Dominica will be unsustainable under PetroCaribe.”
He said that even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had a lot to say about PetroCaribe at the time.
“But only to say today the PetroCaribe agreement right through the Caribbean is being hailed by one of the most serious economic programmes that have been done in the last 25 years to the Caribbean,” Austrie said.
He stated that it was through the efforts of PetroCaribe and Venezuela that the government was able to construct a sea defense wall in Soufriere.
“If you look at the landscape, the infrastructural landscape, the social landscape of Dominica you cannot miss PetroCaribe,” he said. “And we want to start in Soufriere where the sea defense wall, where the people from Soufriere for the last 100 years were threatened seriously by high seas, especially during the hurricane season…”
He also pointed to the Tan Tan sea defense wall and government’s Housing Revolution, which he said has touched the lives of “every single Dominican.”
“The first $30-million for that project came from Venezuela as grant funding,” he noted.
Meantime General Manager of PDV Caribe Dominica, Henry Blanco, said the company is an important vehicle for fulfilling the mission of the agreement under the premises fair trade, complementariness, social justice and common will to develop.
According to him PetroCaribe is still the, “only true initiative that developing countries have to get secure and reliable access to energy sources.”
Blanco congratulated Prime Minister Skerrit and the late President Chavez for their vision and the fruit of which the country have enjoyed in significant ways.
“We look forward with eagerness to a harvest of bounty for the citizens of our countries,” he said.