State Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Fayval Williams, is conceding that the government will have to pay as much as $39-billion up front for oil this year.
A report by Nationwide News last evening estimated that cost would be around $37-billion, due to a drastic decline in oil imports from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe programme.
Mrs. Williams says Jamaica already had to pay $26-billion up front for last year, as supply from Venezuela had already been dwindling.
As a result, this year the additional burden to the government will be about $3-billion.
The revelation comes a week after Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, revealed that Jamaica’s oil imports from Venezuela had fallen from 24,000 to just over 1,000 barrels a day.
It’s one of the results of the social and political crisis the South American country is experiencing.
Mrs. Williams says oil imports from Venezuela dropped to 1 million barrels last year.
She says this year, that amount could fall to half a million barrels, resulting in Jamaica importing more oil from other sources.
Jamaica is among 17 countries that benefit from the Petrocaribe arrangement with Venezuela.
It allows us to pay a percentage of the oil price upfront and the rest over a period of 25 years at 1 per cent interest.