PetroCaribe fund bankrupt; gov’t to source US$15M to pay farmers

7

By Fareeza Haniff

Minister of State , Joseph Harmon addressing reporters during the press conference at the Ministry of Presidency. [iNews' Photo]
Minister of State , Joseph Harmon addressing reporters during the press conference at the Ministry of Presidency. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had painted a rather grim picture of Guyana’s PetroCaribe fund, revealing at a press conference on Thursday, June 11 that it is bankrupt and as a result government has to source approximately US$15M to pay rice farmers.

He blamed the bankruptcy on the previous administration [People’s Progressive Party Civic] for the “casual and callous manner” in which they handled the proceeds of the arrangement between Guyana and Venezuela.

The Minister revealed that monies from the fund were used to construct the Hope Canal and other infrastructures, when it was not supposed to. Harmon could not provide figures to show how much money was put into the fund or how much was spent; however he noted that the previous government spent more than what was placed into the PetroCaribe fund.

“The fact of the matter is based on the very casual and callous manner in which the previous administration dealt with the proceeds from that arrangement, that the fund was almost bankrupt, there is nothing in it…So as it stands right now, the situation with the export of paddy, export of rice to Venezuela is that we’re actually going to have to find somewhere in the vicinity of US$15M to basically pay our farmers when they ship the next set of rice to Venezuela.

File Photo: Workers loading paddy destined for Venezuela onto a vessel at Muneshwers' Wharf
File Photo: Workers loading paddy destined for Venezuela onto a vessel at Muneshwers’ Wharf

“The money has to be found because we believe there is no fault on the part of our farmers but it has to do with the way the previous administration handled that fund,” the Minister of State told reporters.

Harmon reiterated that there was a “very serious” level of mismanagement on the part of the previous PPP/C government.

“We’re receiving demands for sums of monies that were not paid. We’re getting people who are turning up saying they were not paid. It’s a very serious situation which we face. Monies were spent, which were not meant to be spent from this fund.”

PetroCaribe is intended to promote trade amongst member countries, and Guyana has been supplying rice to Venezuela under the initiative. Under the current trade agreement, Guyana is expected to supply 210,000 tons of paddy and polished rice annually to Venezuela. The value of this supply amounts to US$130 million.

Meanwhile, he further noted that Cabinet, which met on Tuesday, June 09, approved the establishment of a sub – committee to “aggressively” source new markets for the export of rice, given the fact that by October and November “we will have such a great production of rice, markets available will not be able to sustain it.”

“Cabinet approved of an aggressive approach, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that new markets are found for the production of rice,” Minister Harmon said.

Cabinet was also advised that the governance system within the rice industry will be examined carefully to ensure that there was transparency in the appointment of Boards and other entities.

7 COMMENTS

  1. To deliberately blind one’s self to the truth and facts is a terrible thing.

    If the Gov’t inherited a vibrant economy why does it need to look for Market for rice’s coming harvest? and why did the previous administration empty the farmers rice accounts to build an ill conceived project instead of paying the farmers their dues? Why is the Treasury (the country’s bank account) in heavy over draft, Guysuco in $90 BIllion dollars in debt, whilst secret accounts are been discover by the day? This new Government didn’t inherit a thriving economy, it inherited an façade economy : Good looking inwards but shit in actuality… no wonder the PPP is crying rigged elections it a cover for sympathy when fraud charges are doled out to the convicts the nurtured and counselled.

  2. its too bad when one side talking but the other side will have to wait to respond..y not let have both sides at the same time no matter how long it takes.

  3. Harmon doesn’t seem to have a clue about Petro Caribe or the running of the rice industry. The amount spent on the Hope Canal is significantly less than the billions suffered as losses by farmers for one year from flooding. It was just a few weeks ago that the Coalition was accusing the PPP/C Govt. of siphoning off billions from Petro Caribe funds. Now the tune has changed to mismanagement of the funds. Just before the elections Doerga and Jinnah Rahaman were claiming that the PPP/C Govt was getting 8,000 dollars a bag for paddy sold to Venezuela and that they could afford to pay farmers 4,000 dollars a bag . Now Doerga and Rahaman has changed their tune .Two days ago they said that paddy for this new crop will be 2000 dollars a bag because of the markets. The Coalition should stop playing politics with the rice industry. The farmers priority is their livelihood not politics.

  4. The PPP made a mountain of a MESS with the monies they receive to run the country….what the hell were they doing .???

  5. We taking back all of Jagdeo’s many cars escort and high profile gestures we will use that money as a scholarship fund to our best students in the Country and we will call it the president scholarship fund.
    We need to respect our children and appreciate their triumphs.
    We need to build our nation with love and understanding and most importantly respect!!

  6. Sly mongoose who know yuh name.
    The Colation inherited a bankrupt economy.Read na man.. private accounts… They agreed that the farmers are making every effort to boost production and the problems with payments that was always faced by the farmers was the government . Now we know they used the money for hope canal.
    What money used to build Marriott? Can we decree a take back or buy back our shares it GTT?

  7. ”Cabinet, which met on Tuesday, June 09, approved the establishment of a sub – committee to “aggressively” source new markets for the export of rice, given the fact that by October and November “we will have such a great production of rice, markets available will not be able to sustain it.” (Mr Harmon)
    Take note of this statement dear readers and all those who are concerned. The APNU+AFC government has inherited not only a healthy economy but a booming Rice industry which was practically on its knees when the PPP/C took office in 1992.
    The PNC destroyed the rice industry and so far there doesn’t seem to be any policy in place to expand rice production much less sustain the current production trend

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