1 May 2007 - 10:13
  • News Code: 103561

President Hugo Chvez said Venezuela hopes to gradually sell off its refineries in the United States and build a new network of refineries in Latin America as part of his plan to offer allies in the region a stable oil supply.

Chvez also raised the idea of issuing a regional bond to raise funds for social spending as he hosted a summit of the Bolivaria for the Americas, or ALBA, a leftist bloc and trade group that includes Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

 

"I proposed that we issue an ALBA bond. I hope that we can do it ... And that we issue it here in Venezuela, like we did with Argentina, and bring in US$1 billion (euro730 million)," said Chavez, addressing the leaders Sunday on the final day of their talks.

 

Chvez said the money acquired would be put in a fund to provide credit for ALBA nations.

 

Chvez and other leaders signed accords for Venezuela to supply fuel under preferential terms and join up with other countries for cooperative projects in education, telecommunications, mining, and other areas.

 

Chvez said Venezuela will guarantee to supply 100 per cent of the energy needs for ALBA members as well as Haiti.

 

ALBA was created in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela as a counterproposal to U.S. backed free-trade plans.

 

Chvez said Venezuela eventually plans to help build a network of refineries in Nicaragua, Haiti, Ecuador, Bolivia and Dominica, as well as refurbish Cuba"s Cienfuegos refinery, to provide a stable supply of oil and the earnings it generates to countries in Latin America.

 

He noted that Venezuela"s Citgo Petroleum Corp. has seven refineries in the U.S. and said that "part of our plans is to sell those refineries".

 

Special oil deals

 

Under special oil deals offered by Venezuela, ALBA member nations would be able to finance 50 per cent of the bill for fuel under low-interest loans, and 25 per cent of the total bill would go into a special "ALBA Fund" to support local projects through loans, he said.

 

Leaders also discussed creating an "economic cooperation and investment fund," and Chavez offered an initial contribution of US$250 million (euro183 million).

 

Among long-term plans, Chvez proposed to build a petrochemical complex and natural gas plant in Haiti.

 

Leaders attending included Haitian President Rene Preval, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage, plus officials from Uruguay, Ecuador, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Morales, whose country nationalised its natural gas industry last year, raised bitter complaints about the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank body that mediates disputes between governments and foreign investors.

 

"Governments in Latin America and I think all over the world never win the cases. The transnationals always win," Morales said.

 

Chvez backed Morales" stance, saying he had never heard of ICSID but that Latin American countries could create their own arbitration body for disputes with big companies.

 

"We"re better off without the (International Monetary) Fund and without the World Bank," Chvez said. "Only together will we be able to achieve it."

 

PIN/AP

News Code 103561

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