Minister of Energy Dr Andrew Wheatley should resign over the ‘mother of all scandals’ to have rocked the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government, said leader of the parliamentary opposition Dr Peter Phillips.
He said the scandal at the state-owned oil refinery, Petrojam, has all elements of the other scandals combined.
“It is clear that the minister of energy has breached the public trust and his position in that office can’t be sustained. The minister must go!” Dr Phillips told cheering members of his party’s National Executive Council at a meeting held today, June 24.
He posited: “We are seeing a pattern of corrupt behaviour at the level of this JLP administration which is worse than anything the country has ever witnessed at any point…
“Petrojam is the mother of all scandals so far. It has all the ingredients of all the other scandals put together,” Dr Phillips said while he declared that he will not support any member of his party involved in corruption.
He, in the meantime, claimed that nepotism is involved in the Petrojam scandal.
“It has nepotism – the appointment of people in the corporation simply because of connections to the ministerial ranks of the Jamaica Labour Party,” Dr Phillips said.
“And [there is also] the appointment of people at pay levels in excess of what was present in all of the other government corporations, at pay levels in excess of what was offered in the private sector, [and] at pay levels in excess of what was paid to the previous managers in those positions.”
The opposition leader also cited alleged victimization.
“It has the element of victimization which has become typical of the JLP government,” he claimed, adding that the previous Human Resource Manager at Petrojam was fired on Christmas eve. That matter is now before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.
Dr Philips, in the meantime, thinks theft is also a feature of the Petrojam scandal.
“It has the elements of the misuse and diversion, and apparent theft of tax payer resources,” he claimed while he suggested that the issue of theft arises in relation to payment made for trips not taken.
The opposition leader added: “We also have the evidence of a wall being built for tens of millions of dollars more than the estimate done by the National Works Agency for the building of that wall.”
He is also convinced that fraud is involved in the Petrojam scandal.
“It has the element of fraud because monies were paid out on the basis of fraudulent applications that were sent to the management of Petrojam from supposed community organizations in the constituency of the minister of energy,” Dr Phillips claimed.
By Horace Mills