Rapping the lack of progress made by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries towards reducing their heavy dependence on imported oil, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, said today the development of the region’s energy sector was “crying out” for leadership “at the highest possible level” .
Addressing the opening of a CARICOM Energy Week conference here this morning, Inniss warned the region against becoming complacent in pursuing alternatives to oil for energy simply because global petroleum prices have been falling in recent months after sharply rising during the last few years.
“. . . We really have no control over the price of oil,” Inniss reminded his regional counterparts. “. . . I sense that here in the Caribbean sometimes we get rather lazy and comfortable when we see oil prices falling. I believe that it is time that we hold back on any strategies to roll out renewable energy. I dare say that is a serious, serious error.”
Inniss, known for his outspokenness on issues, called for the region to invest in renewable energy as part of “the walk towards a greater level of political and economic independence”. “Caribbean islands must never again fall prey to unsustainable financing programmes for fossil fuel that is more borne out of selfish geopolitical desires than anything else,” he said.
Inniss went on: “Too many islands are too faint-hearted when it comes to rolling out and sustaining renewable energy policies and programmes. Too many are still hoping and waiting for lower oil prices. It is not going to happen.
“But it is an overarching problem that we have in the region, which is that this region has an oversupply of managers, but is woefully short on leaders that will innovate, have vision and are serious game changers. Certainly, this sector is one that is crying out for leaders at the highest possible level for moving forward.”
According to Inniss, about 40 per cent of Barbados’ fossil fuel imports goes towards power generation; 30 per cent towards transportation; about ten per cent to the commercial sector; nine per cent to the industrial sector; eight per cent to the residential sector and five per cent to other sectors in the economy.
“It is therefore no surprise that the unpredictable fuel import costs have such an immediate and palpable effect on our daily lives,” he said. “The research and the analysis have been done. It is time to stop the lot of long-talk and get fully on board with renewable energy in the transportation sector. Our economies and our people cannot wait any longer.”