KINGSTON — The PetroCaribe Development Fund will make available a total of $28.5 billion in loan financing to Central Government and self-financing public bodies, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw has said.
In his Budget Debate presentation at Gordon House on April 28, Mr. Shaw said the Fund will also play a critical role in financing the implementation the Community Renewal Programme (CRP), which is a part of the Government’s Growth Inducement Plan.
“Its objective is the development of human capital and the expansion of economic opportunities for our most vulnerable in both urban and rural areas,” he said.
The Minister noted that many of the initiatives under the programme will promote entrepreneurship and capacity building for micro and small enterprises, while the rural development projects will support innovative agricultural projects and promote food sufficiency.
In addition, the Fund will also provide support for the establishment of a sustainable long-term model at the Students’ Loan Bureau, to provide low-cost financing for tertiary-level students.
As PetroCaribe is a regional development fund, Mr. Shaw said it is for that reason that Jamaica is utilising it to accomplish its true purpose – that of empowering Jamaicans to achieve their fullest potential and thereby contributing to the achievement of a prosperous economy.
He pointed out that during the last fiscal year, the PetroCaribe Fund continued to play a pivotal role in financing the country’s economic and social development.
During the period, the Fund disbursed a total of $10 billion in long-term loan financing to support a number of critical development priorities, such as the Port Authority of Jamaica, the Urban Development Corporation, the National Export-Import Bankof JamaicaLimited, and others.
The Minister noted that the benefits to the public finances and to the macro-economic programme continue to be significant, pointing out that as at March 31, 2011, a total of US$1.4 billion or approximately J$120 billion accrued to Jamaica under the agreement.
“This represents the largest source of concessional loan flows available to the Government of Jamaica,” Mr. Shaw said.
The Minister further expressed the Government’s “deep appreciation to President Hugo Chavez and the Government and People of Venezuela for their generosity."
Established in January 2006, the Fund manages the proceeds of a Venezuelan oil facility, allowing Jamaica to treat as loan proceeds the sale of oil from that country.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter