St. Kitts-Nevis to use PetroCaribe funds to help former sugar workers

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Prime Minister Harris and Venezuelan diplomat Herrera in a jovial mood following the signing of the agreement

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Tuesday March 31, 2015, CMC – The St. Kitts-Nevis government says it will use the EC$16 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) it has received from Venezuela to fulfill promises made to former sugar workers.

The funds were provided under the PetroCaribe initiative and following the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said that the money would be given to the former sugar workers.

“We will over the course of the months be pursuing with the government of Venezuela a number of projects that we think would form part of the expectations of support under these particular programmes,” Prime Minister Harris said.

“For now they have readily accepted to provide for us 16 million dollars to cover what we have described as the shortfall in the compensation package to the former sugar workers,” he said, adding that that previous PetroCaribe programmes had addressed the needs of former sugar workers.

“The government of Venezuela had in the past been specifically associated with the agenda of support for sugar workers. You will recall for example that they had been involved in the building of homes for some of the former sugar workers. And they therefore had become interested in assisting the government in meeting this very major policy initiative that we had announced.

“Because of their prior engagement in that area, it made it easier for them to appreciate the issues at hand which they had been involved in a number of policy initiatives both in terms of agriculture and specifically to the former sugar workers this is just the first of several initiatives that we intend to pursue with the government of Venezuela,” Prime Minister Harris said.

He told the ceremony Monday that he would outline to the media on Thursday to explain how the monetary packages would be distributed.

The agreement was signed with Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez Herrera, who said that the arrangements for the initiative had taken place in a short space of time.

“I would like just to say that this is a moment to tell the importance and the nature of PetroCaribe. PetroCaribe is an energy agreement between countries based on the vast natural resources that Venezuela posseses.

“It has the idea to not only keep important levels of security to countries, particularly countries in the Hemisphere and the Caribbean but also be a tool for economic and social development. This is why under the umbrella of PetroCaribe we can have these social programmes.

“We also have programmes that tend to be more of a productive nature. The whole idea is to make a balance and to give opportunity, to have energy security, to promote economic and social development and promote regional integration,” the diplomat added.

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