Former President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday rejected claims by the new government that all the monies in the PetroCaribe fund had been squandered and none was available to pay cash-strapped rice farmers.
“The money went to the rice farmers. You don’t expect if you are going to give the money to the rice farmers and paying the millers for the rice and the paddy that there would be money in the fund too,” he told reporters at a news conference on July 8, 2015.
Ramotar explained that part of the issue was that Guyana was selling rice faster than buying oil from Venezuela. Under the PetroCaribe concessionary oil deal, Guyana buys 50 percent of its oil supplies from that Spanish-speaking neighbour.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan has already said that US$15 million have disappeared from the PetroCaribe Fund and that government has to find monies to pay the rice farmers.
Government says it will be auditing the fund to find out where the monies went.
According to the agenda for the Thursday, July 9, 2015 sitting of the National Assembly, two agreements are to be laid in the National Assembly showing that Venezuela has agreed to write off a total of US$124,463,500 in debt accumulated for oil supplied last year in exchange for the supply of paddy and rice.