The 6th PetroCaribe Summit got underway today (Friday, June 12) under the chair of President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, His Excellency Hugo Chavez and co-chair of host Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas. Some 18 Heads of Government arrived on the island ahead of the Summit and Thursday’s Ministerial Meeting on Energy, both being held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. Extensive preparation was made for the dignitaries” visit with support security personnel being flown in as well as aesthetic work being carried out on the route between the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and the Marriott Resort. The heads are expected to discuss how the member countries can gain relief based on the conditions of the PetroCaribe Agreement. PM Douglas said the Summit “will provide a tremendous opportunity to continue the dialogue with its regional partners to further discuss and agree on a collective strategic response to the current global economic and financial crisis”. In 2005, St. Kitts signed on to the PetroCaribe energy cooperation agreement which was created as a body aimed at “facilitating the development of energy policies and plans for the integration of the nations of the Caribbean through the sovereign use of natural energy resources to directly benefit their peoples”. Member states who subscribe to it benefit from the agreement as each one would see the installation of a storage infrastructure; shipping being provided at cost to move petroleum within the region; and the provision of training to enhance efficiency in the use of conventional and renewable energy sources. The agreement provides an extension of short-term financing from 30 to 90 days and the deferred payment facility has been enhanced in light of the dramatic increase in the cost of petroleum. Where the per barrel price exceeds US$40, the payment period is extended to 25 years, including a grace period of two years and at an interest rate of one per cent. Not everyone is in favor of St. Kitts-Nevis being a PetroCaribe member as some officials question how and what the funds accumulated by the Federation will be used for and who is ultimately in charge of the distribution of the member states” monies.
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