St. Kitts and Nevis has been invited to host the Fifth Petro Caribe Summit in June this year.

This is according to SKN’s Minister of Public Utilities, Transport and Posts Honourable Earl Asim Martin, who was addressing the media during his first press conference for 2008.

He elaborated that there have already been two Petro Caribe Summits in Venezuela, one in Jamaica and one in Cuba. The Minister further noted that in his experience the summits are elaborate affairs with heads of government attend with large delegations. He speculated that His Excellency Hugo Chavez should be among the Presidents in attendance. It was revealed that the first committee meeting to plan the event will be held January 23, 2008.

Minister Martin reminded that on December 03, 2007 St. Kitts and Nevis received the first shipment of diesel under the Petro Caribe agreement. To date a total of five shipments have arrived from Venezuela in the amount of 20,000 barrels. He said that the greatest setback of the programme was that the Federation did not have adequate storage for the fuel.

As such, the government of Venezuela had made a firm commitment to provide storage for approximately 34,000 barrels of diesel.

The Minister responsible for Utilities revealed that even as the press conference was taking place, a delegation from Venezuela was in the Federation in order to finalize arrangements for the construction of a storage farm as well as local Petro Caribe offices. The facility is expected to be completed early this year.

To demonstrate the benefits of the Venezuelan fuel programme, Martin informed that the Powerstation is now being operated on the fuel purchased under the Petro Caribe agreement. He further informed that an extension of the programme was the supply of asphalt (bitumen) which would aid in improving the network of roads in the Federation.

Overall, the Minister responsible for Utilities said that Petro Caribe was already profiting the people of the Federation as it had done in the countries that signed on the agreement before St. Kitts and Nevis. Under the agreement, governments purchase fuel at the reduced cost and then use the difference to undertake social programmes in their countries. The benefit to residents is felt not in a direct reduction of fuel cost but in the social benefits received.

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