Laville’s Dominica-memorandum in limbo

POSTED: 04/15/14 1:07 AM

St. Maarten – The Council of Ministers has not yet approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Dominica that independent Member of Parliament Romain Laville accompanied by Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Ted Richardson presented with much ado during a press conference on Wednesday, March 26. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said yesterday that the minister has not yet submitted the memorandum for approval to the Council of Ministers.

Wescot-Williams said that the council would not sign the memorandum just like that. ‘It requires advice from the minister of education, and also from my Ministry of General Affairs, because it concerns foreign relations,” she said.

The memorandum explores opportunities for collaboration between Dominica and St. Maarten in the fields of tourism, aviation, education and agriculture.

Laville, who was born in Dominica, said that the cooperation could also include the supply of cheap cooking gas, citing a price of $11 for a small bottle that costs around $30 in St. Maarten.

But it quickly became clear after Laville’s presentation that Dominica receives its cooking gas under the Petro Caribe Agreement from Venezuela. The country pays a fraction of the cost within 90 days and Venezuela finances the rest long-term on preferential conditions. Dominica sells the gas for the fractional price and builds up debts with Venezuela for the difference between what it pays in the first ninety days and the real market price.

Under the Petro Caribe Agreement, a country like Jamaica has built up a debt to Venezuela of around $250 billion over the past eight years.

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