No more PetroCaribe fund

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CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) at the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PCDF), Dr Wesley Hughes, says the PCDF has accomplished its mission, and will be integrated into the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service as of March 31, 2019.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ last Friday, Dr Hughes said that all assets and a small amount of liabilities will be transferred to the ministry, and the fund, as a separate entity, will cease to exist.

“We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and the contribution that the fund has been able to make to Jamaica’s overall development in all areas,” the CEO said.

“We are most proud of our contribution to the debt buy-back arrangement in 2015, and the significant reduction of the debt-to-GDP ratio as a result of that operation, which contributed greatly to the macroeconomic stabilisation of the country,” he added.

The CEO explained that Jamaica had a debt to Venezuela of approximately US$3.2 billion, and through the ministry, the Government negotiated with Venezuela to repay US$1.5 billion, almost 50 per cent discount.

For his part, investment and treasury manager, PCDF, Bob Russell, said that during the life of the loan, the PCDF has been 100 per cent successful in repaying the Petroleos de Venezuela South America (PDVSA) debt, having never missed a single loan payment.

He highlighted, further, that PDVSA even sent officials to look at Jamaica’s debt management model, as it was one of the most successful models within the PetroCaribe agreement.

The fund, which was established in 2006 as a public body, was dedicated to lending to self-financing public bodies for human capital development, offering assistance to the Ministry of Finance for domestic debt refinancing as well as lending to reduce Jamaica’s dependence on fossil fuel.

Additionally, the CEO stated that another mandate of the fund was the provision of grants for housing, school sanitation, assistance to children in the inner-city communities and investment in infrastructure, such as the port in Falmouth, renovation of the Norman Manley International Airport and the downtown markets, and Highway 2000.

The fund’s establishment resulted from an agreement between Venezuela and a group of countries in the Caribbean and Central America due to the significant increase in oil and the attempt to find a way to ameliorate the impact of this increase on these countries.

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