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JAMAICA | Tempers flare, Holness Updates Parliament on Petrojam

Featured Prime Minister Andrew Holness updated the Parliament and country last night (June 26) on definitive steps taken by the Cabinet on issues in the public domain on the Petrojam matter. Prime Minister Andrew Holness updated the Parliament and country last night (June 26) on definitive steps taken by the Cabinet on issues in the public domain on the Petrojam matter.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, July 27, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared that definitive actions are being taken in the Petrojam matter.

In an address to Parliament which started approximately 10:30 pm last night, Prime Minister Holness updated the Parliament and country on steps taken by the Cabinet on issues in the public domain on the Petrojam matter.
 
It’s the second consecutive marathon day by Prime Minister Holness in dealing with the matter. On Monday the Cabinet met until approximately 11:00 pm dealing with Petrojam issues.
 
In Parliament last night, Prime Minister Holness made a statement and took questions from Members of Parliament up to approximately 11:45 pm in a move to ensure the stakeholders and public are updated.
 
“The Government hears and understands the concerns expressed in the public domain and is sensitive to the impact that allegations of corruption have on public confidence as well as on the value, effectiveness and efficiency of Petrojam as a public entity,” declared the Prime Minister.
 
In responding to questions from his Parliamentary colleagues just before midnight in the marathon sitting of the House, Prime Minister Holness said the Cabinet is engaged in getting the facts about the matters at Petrojam.
 
“The Government appreciates that the public needs to be constantly informed and assured of accurate information. Due diligence will be given to this matter. We are engaged in a process of fact-finding,” said Prime Minister Holness.
 
He added, “definitive actions are being taken to ensure Government policies and systems of accountability are protected. The Cabinet is committed to transparency and accountability.”
 
The Prime Minister also assured Parliament and the country that in short order he will inform the country of more specific actions being taken by the Cabinet.

And in response to the prime ministet, Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips strongly rejected the position taken by the Prime Minister in relation to the Petrojam situation.

During the Parliamentary sitting last night, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips complained that the statement given by the Prime Minister fell way below what is expected under the circumstances.

Dr Phillips argued, that the information already in the public domain should be enough for strong action to be taken, and repeated his call for action to be taken as far as in the Cabinet.
 
He pointed to facts including an absentee Board Chairman and the failure of the Board to meet over 9 months.
 
Attempts by the Parliamentary Opposition to get answers about scandal-hit Petrojam led to boiling tempers and shouting matches during Tuesday afternoon's sitting of the House of Representatives.
 
It all started when Peter Bunting, member of Parliament for Manchester Central, sought to have the Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley answer questions on Petrojam which he was due to respond to last week.
 
Mr. Bunting's questions related to the upgrade of the Vacuum Distillation Unit, the compensation packages for the Human Resources Manager, donations made by Petrojam in 2017, funds advanced to the Chairman of Petrojam for a trip to London and a retainer paid by Petrojam to an entertainment company.
 
However, Karl Samuda, leader of government business, informed the House they would not be answered yesterday. Rather the questions would be answered before the end of the Sectoral Debate.
 
Bunting however wanted specifics on the date for the answers and Samuda was insistent that the information would be given July 3.
 
"What is important to the member is that he can read all the Standing Orders he wishes, he will not get an answer to his question today," Mr. Samuda responded, insisting that he had made it clear the answers would come by the close of Parliament on July 3. 
 
In the meantime, teams from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and the new Integrity Commission yesterday swooped down on the state-owned oil refinery, Petrojam, confiscating documents and computers amid allegations of nepotism, corruption and cost overruns at the entity.

MOCA stepped into Petrojam following calls from the parliamentary Opposition for the investigative body to probe corruption at the oil refinery. The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and other private-sector groups also called for a forensic audit at Petrojam and the Universal Service Fund.

 
  • Countries: Jamaica

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