International — 06 August 2013 — by Adele Ramos
PetroCaribe interest payments to increase in October?

The financial news agency, Platts, a division of McGraw Hill Financial, USA, has reported that the interest rate charged by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the financing of oil purchases under the PetroCaribe deal is set to be increased by the Venezuelan government from a 1 to 2 percent annual rate to a 2.4 percent annual rate – up to a 100% increase in payments – effective October 2013.

The report is being widely circulated in countries which have signed onto the PetroCaribe deal; however, official sources in the region indicate no knowledge of a plan for the interest rate to be increased.

One concern is how this change, if applied, could impact pump prices in Belize and the region. In a release issued last September (2012), announcing the resumption of fuel shipments to Belize, PetroCaribe said Belize is expected to receive 80,000 to 90,000 barrels of products per month, through two shipments of diesel, jet fuel, regular and premium gasoline.

PetroCaribe, an energy cooperation agreement dating back to 2005 and masterminded by the late Hugo Chavez, lists its members as Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Venezuela—a total of 18 parties.

The Platts report indicates, though, that not all countries would face the same level of increases; and that poverty levels would be considered in the revision.

Venezuela’s Ambassador to Belize, Yoel Perez Marcano, indicated to our newspaper that he does not have any official information at this time to respond to the report.

We were also unable to reach the Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance to find out if they have received any indication from the Government of Venezuela that interest rates would increase.

Platts—which describes itself as a leading global provider of energy, petrochemicals, metals and agriculture information, and a premier source of benchmark price assessments for those commodity markets—reported last week that a source “who agreed to speak only if he not be identified” had told them that “the increase was the result of higher administrative and maintenance costs of the loans.”

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