The Petrocaribe program “is not yet over,” says PM Barrow
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 17, 2018– Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed at his press conference yesterday that Belize has stopped importing fuel from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which had been selling fuel products to the country at concessionary rates under the regional Alba Petrocaribe agreement.
Belize is now importing its fuel from the US state of Texas.
PM Barrow insists that the Petrocaribe program, which Belize signed with Venezuela in 2006, is not yet over, but the country is in need of a steady supply of fuel.
The Prime Minister’s announcement comes less than 12 hours after another fuel price increase at the pumps. This time, the increase at the fuel pump has been triggered by the rise in oil prices on the world market.
“When prices to the consumer go up in this country, it is as a result of factors completely beyond our control. We have not raised our tax take on the sale of fuel in this country for the last two years or so, and there is no way, I need to make clear, that we can reduce our tax take,” PM Barrow declared.
PM Barrow went on to explain that for every 10 cents that the government pulls back from its oil taxes, it stands to lose between 2 and 3 million dollars from its budget projections.
He added “…we’re working with the importers to try to moderate the impact as much as possible—that wasn’t just glib or pious rhetoric.”
Barrow continued: “When the Petrocaribe arrangements were in place there were certain margins that were agreed upon with Puma, in shorthand, by way of incentives, to get them to source fuel from PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.), because, of course, there were innumerable benefits redounding to Belize in consequence of using Petrocaribe and PDVSA as the source of our fuel supplies.”
“We’ve stopped placing orders with Venezuela. I would not agree with anybody who says that that means the Petrocaribe program is at an end,” PM Barrow said.