The Keith Mitchell-led Government in Grenada is moving in the direction of a second project with the Venezuela promoted, PetroCaribe to help provide cheaper 20-pound gas cylinders for persons deemed as “vulnerable” in the Spice Isle.
Minister for Economic Development, Planning, Trade and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph, informed the media about this development which was taken by Cabinet at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing held at the Ministerial Complex.
The senior government minister told reporters that Grenada has approached Venezuela with regards to an LPG plant that would be supplying LPG cylinders to the island at a reduced rate.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) the plant was officially opened, already we have 15000 20lb cylinders available, and there are four ISO tanks, 13,000 gallons which we have to fill with propane so that when the 15,000 out we could refill”, he said.
Minister Joseph said the delay in starting the distribution of the cylinders on the local market “is simple because we are awaiting the shipment of the propane to Grenada to fill the LPG tank…”.
The propane for the LPG, he said is coming from Bolivia and if there is a problem with supply then Government has an alternative to get it from neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago.
Minister Joseph stated that the Vice-President of Venezuela who visited the island for the commissioning of the plant at Queen’s Park had assured Prime Minister Mitchell that “he would work on it (the propane) so that we could have that as soon as possible”.
He said government wants to ensure that there is sufficient stock on hand to refill the cylinders that will specially target the poor and vulnerable.
Opponents of the ruling New National Party (NNP) regime see the move as an election catcher by the NNP which has been the most successful political party in national polls since the island attained its independence from Great Britain in 1974.
According to Minister Joseph, the company that government will be purchasing the cylinders from have given “a commitment” to supply all schools on the island with free LPG for the School Feeding programme.
“…This is a major accomplishment of this Government because LPG is widely used now throughout Grenada but the cost we get a little complain (about) from poor people in regards to the cost of it and I can assure you that the LPG that we will be selling from PetroCaribe will be cheaper so it would become more affordable”, he told reporters.
Minister Joseph has urged Grenadians to turn to LPG since it will be “clean energy” to use in their homes and it can address some environmental concerns.
He said: “At the moment you would have to cut down trees to get wood to make coals and we want to get people to stop cut down the trees so if we make it (LPG) available throughout Grenada and targeting the poor, we would’ve achieved our objective. The aim is not to make profit from it but is to ensure that the people who need it, get it and they could afford to have it”.
The minister who is the Member of Parliament for St. David pointed out that the cost price for each cylinder has not been decided upon as Government is still waiting on a recommendation from PetroCaribe.
“We know what is paid for the cylinders, how much it will cost for the filling of it but as to exactly what price (it will be sold at)…. that is still being worked upon and we will make an announcement as soon as everything is in place when the PetroCaribe Board finally make a recommendation to the Cabinet,” he said.
In the face of growing concerns in the region that the political uncertainty in Venezuela could jeopardise the future of the PetroCaribe arrangement, Minister Joseph denied this and further assured that the arrangement would not be affected by the problems that Caracas is currently experiencing with Washington.
He was confident that Grenada would have adequate supplies of fuel for use by homeowners and even GRENLEC, the island’s sole supplier of electricity.
“As you know we have two other private companies in Grenada, there will be no shortage of Diesel for GRENLEC to operate because the private operators have indicated that they can immediately supply it so if (there is) any fear that PetroCaribe will fail and there will be no electricity – that would not happen in Grenada’s case”, he remarked.