Cabinet replaces Jamaican directors on Petrojam board

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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The Cabinet yesterday named three new members of the board of directors of the Petrojam oil refinery, to replace the three Jamaican directors who resigned on Monday.

The three replacements are: Paul Hoo, former chairman of leading gaming company, Supreme Ventures Ltd, and two former vice-presidents of Scotia Bank Jamaica, Rosie Pilner and Wayne Powell.

The announcement from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said that the decision was taken at Monday night's weekly meeting which discussed several related issues which are of concern to the public.

The release also said that the cabinet has directed cabinet Secretary to task the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology to prepare a report on the operations of Petrojam, with specific attention to various allegations in the public domain.

The report is to be ready for the next meeting of Cabinet where it is expected that the permanent secretary and the senior management team of Petrojam will attend and present the report.

Chairman Perceval Badahoo-Singh and fellow directors Richard Creary and Harold Malcom handed in resignation letters on Monday, days after Science, Energy and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley summoned them to a meeting.

This was reportedly prompted by the preliminary findings of an investigation into several “grave and troubling matters at Petrojam which have dominated public discourse in recent weeks”, a release from the ministry said.

It also said that Wheatley would “use the powers afforded to his office” to take decisive action to deal with all the matters currently affecting the State-owned entity”.

People's National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of Energy Phillip Paulwell says the resignation of the Jamaican directors of Petrojam is only a step in the right direction, but this does not go far enough in addressing the corruption and deepening crisis at the nation's sole oil refinery.

Paulwell said the ongoing investigations by the Auditor General and the Office of the Contractor General must continue to completion and those responsible for acts of corruption or fraud or any other breach must be held accountable.

The PNP spokesman is also asking energy minister Andrew Wheatley to explain to the people of Jamaica why the board members were forced to resign.

Paulwell said further that the revelation by director Richard Creary that the board had not met in nine months was a damning indictment on the oversight of the major state agency and a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the minister.

“When the PNP was in power, we ensured that at least one of the Venezuelan directors was domiciled in Jamaica. This had to be so because of the critical nature of the Petrojam operations to the nation and the national economy,” Paulwell said in a release.

He also reasoned that the major projects currently being undertaken by the agency demand that the board is active and responsive in the decision-making process and ensuring that the interest of the Jamaican people is safeguarded.

“The agency was left with no oversight; both the chairman Mr Perceval Bahado-Singh and the minister must be held accountable. In fact, Mr Bahado-Singh, who also sits on the board of the parent body Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), needs to step down from that agency as well,” Paulwell said.

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