Amid damning allegations about operations at the government’s oil refinery, Petrojam, Cabinet has approved the appointment of three new Jamaican members to the entity’s Board of Directors, and has summoned the relevant permanent secretary to a meeting.
The Office of the Prime Minister said, when Cabinet met on Monday night, it “discussed the issues regarding Petrojam that are of concern in the public domain”. Those issues relate mainly to the use of public funds and the change of staff at Petrojam.
Cabinet also used the meeting to approve the three new Board members to represent Jamaica’s interest.
They are Former Chairman of Supreme Ventures Limited Paul Hoo, and two former vice-presidents of Scotia Bank – Rosie Pilner and Wayne Powell.
They have replaced the three Jamaicans who, up to a few days ago, served on the Petrojam Board. Those replaced are Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh who served as Chairman while living in the United States, attorney-at-law Harold Malcolm, and Mayor of Port Maria Richard Creary.
The Board of Petrojam, in the meantime, has three members representing the Government of Venezuela, which part-owns the refinery.
Cabinet also summoned the Permanent Secretary responsible for Petrojam, Hillary Alexander, to a meeting to explain allegations being made about operations at the refinery.
The Office of the Prime Minister explained: “Cabinet has directed the 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,” added the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), in the meantime, said it objects to the permanent secretary conducting any investigation into Petrojam.
“The People’s National Party objects to the tasking of the Permanent Secretary, Ms Hillary Alexander, to investigate and report to the Cabinet on the developing corruption and breaches at the state-owned oil refinery, Petrojam Limited,” said the party, whose spokesperson on energy is Phillip Paulwell.
The PNP noted that the permanent secretary, Alexander, is the Accounting Officer who should tell the country what she knows about the Petrojam affair.
“The Opposition absolutely repudiates the Cabinet’s decision to designate Ms Alexander as the investigator, because it does not inspire public confidence that the government is serious about the investigation rather than setting up an escape hatch for their ministerial colleagues,” the PNP further said.