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In a special session of the House of Representatives today the Prime Minister of Belize tabled the Petrocaribe loan motion for a second reading. What the government is seeking is to gain approval from the national assembly for loans to the tune of about two hundred and forty million dollars from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The motion however has met the rebuff of the Opposition People’s United Party. Already, the PUP has filed a lawsuit against the government saying the loan motion is illegal and unconstitutional. That lawsuit was filed by PUP Deputy Leader Julius Espat who also doubles as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Today, in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister Dean Barrow first proceeded to explain what the entire Petrocaribe agreement is. It was first signed in 2005 at Jamaica by representatives of the then PUP administered government.  The agreement allows for Belize to buy fuel from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on favorable terms, said the PM.

Screen_Shot_2014-11-18_at_8.23.37_PMHonorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“We pay full price from the Petroleum we get from Venezuela it is just that we don’t pay that price up front, a portion of the price the so called finance portion is kept back by Belize and only afterwards and eventually paid to Venezuela over 25 years.  These long term delayed payments start after a two year grace period and carry the unbelievably low interest rate of 1% so then for every shipment this government and this country receive from Venezuela we are able to hold back 40%/50% or more of the sale price, the amount we hold back depends on the world market price at which Venezuela sales the oil; there is a formula that is a little complicated, and under that formula when the world market price, when the global price at which Venezuela sales, like all other Petroleum exporting countries, when that price is high $100 or more per barrel, the portion we are able to keep back on the purchase price for which we are accountable to Venezuela, the portion we are able to keep back to retain is greater once the world market price is high, when that price is lower around $80 or so as it is now, where we are down to seventy odd the quantum we are able to keep from the payments made up front to Venezuela the immediate payment to Venezuela is then bigger but either way when the market price is high or when the market price is not so high either way what we retain as the finance portion is significant for a small economy such as ours.”

The Prime Minister further explains that PUMA is the actual recipient of the fuel shipments from Venezuela. The company pays the full price of the purchase to GOB and government in turn, under the Petrocaribe agreement, pays a portion of the fuel cost to Venezuela. The remaining money is kept as a long term financing from Venezuela to Belize.

Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“The fuel imports from Venezuela ultimately received and paid for by Puma are not done directly by Government of Belize but by a company called Actbel, that is why you see Actbel in the motion that is before us, now Actbel is a joint venture company owned by the government of Belize and the government of Venezuela, is run by a board of director and the chairman of which is a Venezuelan, the deputy Chairman which is a Belizean so the retained of finance portion after Puma pays everything to Actbel is then handed over to the government of Belize by Actbel, and they keep a small bit of that finance portion for itself to assisting in handling it operating expenses.”


The loan motion has yet to be approved by the national assembly but monies have been used, an estimated twenty five percent or about sixty million dollars. This according to the PM has been the money that is fueling a number of infrastructural and social assistance within the country.


Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“What Petro Caribe has done now though, is to enable us to take our social justice trail blazing, our economic protection and empowerment of the poor and the middle class to new levels; it has allowed us to realize now giant achievements for the people of Belize that we could only dream of.”

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