Gov’t proposes teaching Venezuelans English to compensate for oil debt

(Jamaica Gleaner) Jamaica will, this weekend, seek to have Venezuela agree to a proposal for the training of Venezuelans in English language as part of a programme to offset oil debts.

Phillip Paulwell, Jamaica’s minister of science, technology, energy and mining, who left the island for Port-au-Prince, Haiti, yesterday, said he is expecting a positive response to the proposal.

“By the end of the weekend, I will be able to report on it,” Paulwell told The Gleaner.

Paulwell will be attending the 11th meeting of the PetroCaribe Council of Ministers and the second meeting of the PetroCaribe Economic Zone.

“We are continuing our discussions with Venezuela in relation to trade-compensation mechanism, and we expect a very positive outcome on a proposal that they are contemplating,” Paulwell told The Gleaner.

Under the PetroCaribe arrangement, Jamaica pays Venezuela only 60 per cent of the cost of the oil it receives. The remainder is set aside as a loan, which is payable over 20 years at an interest rate of one per cent.

Since 2005, more than US$2.3 billion has accrued to Jamaica under the arrangement.

Paulwell said on Friday that the trade-compensation mechanism being contemplated would also see Jamaica shipping cement to the South American country.

In the meantime, Paulwell has said he does not expect the matter of the interest rates under the agreement to be raised at the meeting.

In August, Paulwell has refuted media reports of plans by the Venezuelan government to increase the interest rate on loans provided under the PetroCaribe Agreement.

Paulwell will be accompanied by Dr Wesley Hughes, chief executive officer of the PetroCaribe Development Fund; Sharon Webber, Jamaica’s ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; and Christopher Cargill, chairman of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica Group.

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