PJ: No problem with Manning's speech
Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson said Prime Minister Patrick Manning's declaration that the Petro Caribe agreement could erode T&T's regional oil exports, as well as his reminder of the amount of assistance T&T has given to Caricom countries, had not affected the tone of the heads of government conference meeting.
Patterson said so at a press conference Sunday at the Sandals Grande hotel, Gros Islet, St Lucia, where the regional leaders are holding their 26th regular meeting.
The press conference was held to address Manning's speech, along with other issues, but Patterson did not express his own opinions on the speech.
Several sources said Manning's speech during the opening ceremony of the conference on Sunday, appeared to have offended some regional leaders.
Some who attended the ceremony questioned whether the otherwise upbeat event was the right forum for Manning to express such concerns.
"It hasn't affected the tone of the meeting this morning," Patterson said.
"It is not my habit nor my practice to comment publicly on the speeches given by other colleagues, prime ministers, at public presentations and I think it's too late and unwise for me to depart from that practice now."
Manning said owing to the record high oil prices and other economic challenges facing many of T&T's regional neighbours, he understood why 12 Caricom states signed the Petro Caribe deal with Venezuela.
He gave a detailed statement on the amount of assistance T&T had given to Dominica, Guyana, Grenada and even Venezuela in times of need.
Manning also noted while the Petro Caribe deal included a fund initially capitalised at US$50 million for economic and social assistance to the entire region, T&T had already established a Caricom petroleum stabilisation fund based on oil prices above $32 a barrel for Brent crude.
Grenadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell also said he was not offended.
"I have no problem with it," Mitchell said.
"I understood his concerns and he was forthright."
Mitchell said the fact that Manning attended the Petro Caribe meeting in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela last week showed the level of his concern.
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