Arrindell: St. Maarten should explore opportunities with Venezuela

POSTED: 06/7/13 1:56 PM

St. Maarten – “I can agree with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans that a structure for regular talks should be found with Venezuela so regular talks can take place where ideas and information are exchanged,” MP Drs. Gracita Arrindell said in a statement. “It will be mutually beneficial for the Kingdom as a whole and in particular for St. Maarten and other Kingdom partners.”

Arrindell is glad that the Kingdom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the Kingdom and the Republic of Venezuela.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs visit is timely and welcome, she said.  Not only for the opportunities that can be derived from the agreement signed.  Notwithstanding the regrettable political issues of the past weeks, the visit should be seen as yet another small but firm step forward as St. Maarten continues to develop as a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Arrindell added.

She further says that the Kingdom Relations Committee of Parliament should hold meetings on this subject and present concrete proposals on the way forward.

Because Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, Arrindell said that St. Maarten can benefit from the PetroCaribe program. The PetroCaribe is an agreement between Venezuela and several Caribbean countries to purchase oil on preferential payment conditions.

The agreement which began in 2005, allows the beneficiary nations to buy oil at market value but only pay a percentage of the cost up front.  The balance can be paid over 25 years at one per cent interest.

“I think this should be looked into.  When we take into consideration the high costs of electricity, this may be one option to explore to lower the costs of electricity for our people and the costs of doing business in this country,” she said.

Beneficiary nations are allowed to purchase 185,000 barrels of oil per day on the aforementioned terms.  Additionally, these nations could settle their debt to Venezuela using goods and services.

The countries in the region that are already benefiting from this agreement are: Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Suriname, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We should explore these options and see what can come out of them for the benefit of the people of St. Maarten,” Arrindell stated.


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