PNP lauds Venezuela for St Vincent debt write-off; urges Holness Administration to "do right" by the South American nation

The People’s National Party (PNP) has commended the Government and people of Venezuela for what it describes as “their great act of generosity” in providing substantial debt relief to CARICOM neighbour, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to reports, this relief amounts to US$70 Million (EC$189 million), or nine per cent of the national debt of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It will greatly assist that country in its recovery from the eruption of the Mount Soufriere volcano and the passage of Hurricane Elsa, the PNP noted in a statement on Saturday.

The PNP said it understands that Venezuela will also cut in half, the debt owed to it by the other countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) that are members of PetroCaribe. These states will reportedly be able to access oil from Venezuela at a 35 per cent discount on the prevailing market price.

“Venezuela’s recent actions have again demonstrated its commitment and solidarity with the Caribbean region. The people of Jamaica remember well Venezuela’s tremendous act of generosity and solidarity in 2015 when it forgave 50 per cent of Jamaica’s US$3 billion PetroCaribe oil facility debt, the largest debt relief ever received by Jamaica,” said the Opposition party.

It said this was after a decade of providing very concessionary terms to Jamaica and others for the purchase of Venezuelan oil.

“These events serve to underscore the importance of consistent adherence to principle in our approach to international relations. In contrast, they also clearly reveal the folly of the Holness Administration’s hostility and mistreatment of Venezuela since 2016, including by dividing CARICOM in the votes against Venezuela at the OAS (Organisation of American States), and the unprecedented expropriation of Venezuela’s shareholding in Petrojam in 2019, the payment for which remains unresolved,” the PNP’s statement further said.

It added that “as the table once again turns, the shortsightedness of the Holness Administration has already jeopardised Jamaica’s standing with Venezuela, even as other Caribbean nations are again benefiting from Venezuela’s generosity”.

“Indeed, now is a good time for Jamaica to show good faith by settling with Venezuela the thorny bi-lateral issue of the Petrojam shares. The People’s National Party reaffirms our commitment to a principled, progressive stance in Jamaica’s International relations. It is an approach which has served our country well...”.

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