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Part of PetroCaribe debt not reflected in 2016 Estimates – IMF

Part of PetroCaribe debt not reflected in 2016 Estimates – IMF

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A recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) release has noted that St Vincent and the Grenadines did not enter, in the Government’s public debt statistics, some $112 million (5.3 per cent of GDP) owed to PetroCaribe.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, however, says the $112 million, while not reflected in the debt profile in the 2016 Estimates, is in the accounts of the Government.{{more}}

“…We have had that discussion inside of the House already and I have told them what the number is,” said Gonsalves on Wednesday, during an interview at the Beachcombers Hotel.

The IMF conducted a staff mission to SVG from February 22 to March 3, 2016. The visit, which was led by Dominique Simard was held to conduct discussions for the 2016 Article IV Consultation.

The communication, issued on March 7 stated that the PetroCaribe agreement has represented an important financing source for the Gover-nment and at the end of January 2016, the debt of PetroCaribe St Vincent to Venezuela stood at $183 million (8.7 percent of GDP), of which only $71 million is recorded as government debt.

Gonsalves said that while the IMF seems to have a problem with the money not being reflected in the debt profile in the Estimates, one of the things that he is happy about is that they put the debt at $183 million and not $900 million, the figure the New Democratic Party (NDP) was quoting.

“Two years ago I had said it was $146/$150 (million) thereabouts, remember that number, so you get confirmation again that was the truth,” said the Prime Minister.

He said that the IMF has included it in their debt numbers and so has the Government, “but it is just that it was not in the profile in the Estimates and that is something that we can simply include, that’s no problem.”

Gonsalves said the debt was arranged that way because of the original discussion with Venezuela, but nothing is hidden.

“I also gave information to the House. On one occasion I even read out every single, when it was about $150 (million), I read out every single amount what was allocated to everybody,” he stressed.

The Prime Minister noted that every approval from PetroCaribe to any entity is done through the Cabinet and is reflected in a memo which comes from PetroCaribe.

“The decision is recorded in the Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance has all the information and I make the information available to the country and to the House and there is absolutely no hiding,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister also hinted, “there is something further which I would say about some things which I want to do with the PetroCaribe debt…some things I’m talking to them about, but in the fullness of time, that will be made known.”

He said that one must also take into consideration that the IMF report “was not a bad report,” which has not only projection for growth, but other encouraging factors.(LC)

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