Opposition spokesman Peter Bunting has questioned the suitability of Perceval Bahado-Singh to remain Chairman of the state-owned oil company, Petrojam, in light of a controversy over payments regarding an airline ticket.
He raised concern after General Manager of Petrojam Floyd Grindley yesterday disclosed that the Chairman, who lives in the United States, bought an airline ticket to attend a meeting in England but did not show up.
The Ministry of Finance, which said it is ‘unusual’ for Government representatives to buy tickets with personal funds, explained that Government is the one that usually pays directly for such services.
The General Manager at Petrojam, during an appearance yesterday before parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), said the Chairman did not attend the meeting due to ‘weather problems’.
Government, nonetheless, reimbursed the Chairman for the ticket he purchased in February for nearly JA$1 million.
Members of the PAAC raised concern about the Petrojam Chairman using his own funds to purchase the airline ticket, as opposed to following Government procedure.
They also made a futile attempt to have the General Manager explain what ‘bad weather’ caused the Chairman not to attend the London meeting for which he purchased the ticket.
The General Manager eventually divulged that the Chairman, last week, repaid the funds that Government earlier reimbursed.
He further admitted that the Chairman repaid the money after concern was expressed publicly about it.
Juliet Holness, who is among PAAC members who raised concern about the transaction, posited: “We have to make sure that Government’s resources are spent in the way they should.”
“We are to send a clear message to individuals who take it on themselves to serve the country that you have certain rules and regulations you must abide by… It cannot be that the rain started falling or you don’t like snow and you don’t turn up [at a meeting] and the government pays for it…” Holness further reasoned.
Meanwhile, subsequent to the PAAC meeting, Bunting, in a tweet yesterday, suggested that the Petrojam Chairman should be relieved of his duties.
The tweet reads: “In PAAC today, it is revealed that the Chairman of Petrojam receives US$8,000 in expense reimbursements for a trip he didn’t take, but only repays the money months later after I exposed the issue in parliament? This person is manifestly unsuitable for such a position.”
By Horace Mills