When it comes to Guyana’s financial relations with Venezuela, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan has confirmed that at the end of 2018, Guyana owed the Spanish speaking territory US$114.7 million.
In a brief interview, the economist said that since September 2017, Guyana has been unable to make cash payments to Venezuela, given the US imposed sanctions. He said that a special account was established into which these payments are transferred on a monthly basis. “As soon as the situation normalizes, we will transfer the accumulated amount in the account to Venezuela,” the Finance Minister expressed.
In his 2017 report, Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, had highlighted some of the debt Guyana owes to Venezuela under the PetroCaribe deal.
The Auditor General noted that several agreements related to PetroCaribe which were entered into during 2015, were not laid in the National Assembly at the time of reporting. He said that these include Compensation agreements between the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; and a draft sales agreement for oil shipments to Guyana through the PetroCaribe Agreement for the year 2015 with a total value of $5.293 billion or US$25.632M.
Sharma said that the compensation agreements between the Governments of Venezuela and Guyana provided for the cancellation of the oil debt in compensation for white rice and paddy under the Guyana/Venezuela Rice Trade Agreements.
According to the agreement, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) would supply rice and paddy to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. During 2015, there was a cancellation of $9.038 billion or US$43.766M of which there was no official agreement signed between the Government of Guyana and Republic of Venezuela for the said cancellation of the debt.
In response to this matter, the Finance Ministry had said that in 2015, the seventh Oil Debt Compensation Agreement between Guyana and Venezuela was not concluded.
The Ministry said that this Agreement specified that in 2015, the white rice and paddy shipped to Venezuela from Guyana was intended to compensate Guyana’s Oil debt to Venezuela.
It noted that oil shipments under the PetroCaribe Agreement from Shipment №. 33 of 2013 to Shipment №. 27 of 2015 are included in the Seventh Oil Debt Compensation Agreement. The Ministry said that there has been no contract concluded between the Government of Guyana and Venezuela for the 2015 Sales of Oil Shipment №. 1 of 2015 to Shipment №. 27 under the PetroCaribe agreement.
The Ministry said that promissory Notes were prepared reflecting shipments made in 2013 to 2015 through the sales contract. It said that the terms and conditions outlined in the promissory notes are still valid and enforceable.
The Ministry further noted that money representing repayments to Venezuela for oil shipments are currently being placed in an account held at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It said that all such funds will be placed on fixed deposits with BIS until sanctions against the Government of Venezuela are lifted.
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