P.J. Patterson breaks silence on Patrick Manning tirade on CARICOM
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has broken his silence on the tirade unleashed on CARICOM leaders by Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Patrick Manning.
Charging that the leaders failed to even extend the courtesy of discussing the matter with his administration, Mr. Manning had accused them of turning their backs on Trinidad and Tobago.
The Jamaican Prime Minister played down his Trinidadian counterpart's outburst, saying Mr. Manning's concern centred around shipping and quota arrangements.
At the same time, Mr. Patterson underscored the high demand for oil and the need for Jamaica to purchase the commodity at the cheapest price available.
He noted that in July of last year, Trinidad and Tobago announced plans to establish a 50 million US dollar Fund which would be available to CARICOM countries through grants.
On the other hand, the Prime Minister told Parliament that PetroCaribe was conceived as a model for South South Cooperation.
Mr. Patterson revealed that prior to the signing of the agreement a series of meetings involving all CARICOM states including Trinidad and Tobago were convened to discuss the issue.
He noted that Energy Ministers eventually formulated a commercial initiative designed to secure access to energy at reasonable prices within the framework of Latin American and Caribbean Energy integration.
At the same time, he said Jamaica pursued bilateral discussions with Venezuela to upgrade the Petrojam refinery.
The Prime Minister emphasised that the Petrocaribe Initiative does not compromise the spirit or letter of a Memorandum of Understanding between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago concerning the purchase of Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG.
According to Mr. Patterson, the Petrocaribe agreement speaks to equality and underscores the principle of sovereignty.
He added that the agreement specifically recognises the importance of Trinidad and Tobago as a reliable energy exporting country.
The Prime Minister noted that it has come at a time when the per barrel cost of oil is hovering at 60 US dollars.
He also asserted that Petrocaribe will complement the Energy Fund set up last year by Trinidad and Tobago.
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