ANTIGUA and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced that the Venezuelan government will write off 50 percent of its debt through their PetroCaribe oil deal.
“I just spoke to a Venezuelan official who confirmed that a letter will be sent very shortly in which the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will confirm the forgiveness of up to 50 percent of the PetroCaribe debt,” Browne told reporters.
He said the Venezuelan government had made the commitment to forgive the debt during the pledging conference for hurricane-hit Caribbean countries, which occured in New York last November, according to The Daily Observer.
The prime minister announced that the PetroCaribe debt had reached US$139 million in September 2014.
“We are working on the framework of PetroCaribe to give people a chance to be more independent and happier. So we’re working on the framework of Petro Caribe and we’re going to keep working on that,” said National Constituent Assembly President and former foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs, Delcy Rodriguez.
Antigua and Barbuda is now primed to pay off the final portion of its approximately US$118.5 International Monetary Fund, (IMF) loan.
“I am pleased to confirm that we have given instructions to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank today to make the final payment to the IMF. It’s a payment of E.C. $12 million which will retire that $320- million-dollar loan in its entirety,” said Browne.
“It means therefore that from today we will no longer be indebted to the IMF and that would have signaled to the international community and to investors that the Antiguan economy is strong.”
Prime Minister Browne said the PetroCaribe debt had reached E.C. $375 million (approximately USD $139 million).