The Party is over and we’re not talking about anything related to the September celebrations. The PetroCaribe party and it’s sourcing of cheap oil and easy money for the Barrow Administration is over. Today Alba Petrocaribe Belize Energy Limited (APBEL), the Belizean company through which Belize buys Petrocaribe fuel from Venezuela, issued a notice to stakeholders in Belize’s fuel sector which informed that it has suspended purchases of petroleum products from Venezuela’s fuel supplier, PDVSA (pronounced Pedevesa).
The notice indicates further that APBEL has been facing problems maintaining a reliable supply of fuel from Venezuela, and it has, at times, resulted in higher fuel costs when Puma, the main fuel supplier in Belize, has had to make last minute arrangements to make up for the shortfall.
According to APBEL, even PDVSA has had problems with their supply and have had to purchase in an ad hoc manner to meet Belize’s demands.
The note says [quote] “it does not make sense to force this arrangement under these circumstances” [end quote].
Puma has now made alternative arrangements, reportedly from the United States, to be able to continue to fuel supply to Belize.
This is terrible news for the Government and people of Belize. Firstly, Petrocaribe was an extra special, one-of-a-kind arrangement which saw Venezuela provide fuel to the country and receive payments in under concessionary loan terms. GOB would only pay 40% of what it owed in cash at 1% interest. The hundreds of millions it kept was meant for social and economic development and to uplift Belizeans out of poverty, but instead were squandered on political projects meant to win the Barrow Administration a third term in office. The economic and certainly political impacts of no more Petro-caribe are long-term and grave.
Without Venezuelan fuel, the Government will have to return to its U.S. source, which at this time is strained by the effects of Hurricane Irma.
Two weeks ago, the Government issued a press release warning Belizeans to expect higher fuel prices because it has had to source fuel from Houston, Texas.
Yesterday, Business Senator Mark Lizarraga discussed the high fuel prices in Belize, calling it a bad Government policy.
Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee
“It’s a tragedy that so much money in our country, so much revenue is derived from fuel, so much revenue almost half I believe the last number I say was almost half the number you pay at the pump goes to the government by way of taxes at some stage we need to revisit that but more importantly why are these taxes so high is because we cannot properly account for the way we spend the people’s money so now we see the government in ernes haze trying to increase revenues from all sources and unfortunately fuel is the beast of burden that’s where they get a big bulk of it so just remember almost half of everything you pay at the pumps goes to the government by way of taxes, we need as people start focusing on how they spend our money not just how much they collect but how they spend it and that is why am going to put a plug here that is why we need to champion and fight for public accounts committee hearing to be held in public because the people need to know how we’re spending their money.”