Skerrit says Dominica has benefitted from ALBA, PetroCaribe

Addressing the Delegates Conference of the ruling St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) in Choiseul, south–east of here on Sunday, Skerrit, who was among the first regional leaders to sign the accords, said that despite naysayers, Caribbean countries that are members of the ALBA and PetroCaribe were benefitting at a time of global economic crisis and challenges.

He told delegates he recalled the then Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson informing him that “there is no way he is going to leave Venezuela without signing this PetroCaribe agreement because he understands the importance of it to the economy o Jamaica.

“The World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and some told us that it would affect our debt, but today the World Bank and the IMF are saying to us that the PetroCaribe agreement is one of the best things and we must keep to it because of the revenue it is bringing to our economy”.

PetroCaribe is a oil alliance of many Caribbean countries with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. Launched in 2005, it now links with ALBA to promote economic cooperation.

Skerrit said that it was unfornate when St. Lucia should have signed the PetroCaribe agreement some years ago, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony lost the elections.

“Had St. Lucia signed on to PetroCaribe I can tell you, you would have had access to 300 million dollars now at one per cent interest to assist with the challenges confronting St. Lucia today. But as the saying goes rather late then never,” he told cheering SLP supporters.

Skerrit said that his country had benefited tremendously from the PetroCaribe initiative as well as the ALBA, the brainchild of the late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez that is based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and St. Lucia are members of the grouping. 

“I can tell you…that with ALBA funds and with PetroCaribe funds I have been able to create mortgages at interest rates of four and five per cent in Dominica, I have been able to put money at the Development Bank for farmers to borrow at zero and two per cent in Dominica.

“With ALBA fund I have been able to outfit every single police station…,” he said adding “so I am telling you do not let anybody fool you and create in your mind this mystery and evil about ALBA and PetroCaribe.

“I am saying to St. Lucia go for it and take advantage of these two instruments of integration and cooperation,” Skerrit added.

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