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JAMAICA | Wheatley Relieved of Energy portfolio, PNP not happy

Featured Embattled Minister of Science Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley relieved of the key energy portfolio. Embattled Minister of Science Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley relieved of the key energy portfolio.
KINGSTON, Jamaica July 2, 2018 - Following weeks of pressure by the parliamentary opposition as well as civil society, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has removed the important energy portfolio from embattled Minister of Science Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley, as the government seeks to cauterise the fallout being experienced from the Petrojam scandal.

A statement from the Cabinet last night said the energy portfolio will be transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, effective July 4, 2018.

"After discussion with Minister Wheatley, it was agreed that Petrojam requires strategic review of both of its management and operations, as well as its long-term commercial viability and role in Jamaica’s energy security.  Having regard to this and the ongoing investigation, Minister Wheatley agreed with the Prime Minister that in the interest of transparency, the energy portfolio will be transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, effective July 4, 2018." the statement said.

The OPM statement also indicated that there will be a strategic review of Petrojam's management and operations, as well as its long-term commercial viability and role in Jamaica's energy security.

A special enterprise team will be assembled to conduct and oversee the organisational and strategic review of Petrojam.

It has also been decided that the residential status of all persons nominated to boards must be stated in the Cabinet submission seeking approval for appointment.

Overseas travel of Board Chairmen or Board members must receive prior approval of the Minister.

Public bodies will be prohibited from entering into sole source retainer contracts without the prior approval of Cabinet.

The Ministry of Finance has also been tasked to develop and finalise uniformed regulations for public bodies around donations and corporate social responsibility.

There will be limits on the amount that can be approved at the agency level.

It will be a requirement that all donations be disclosed with details to include the amount, the receiving entity, the purpose of the donation and connected party consideration with the management, board of directors or the Minister.

In the meantime, the parliamentary opposition is not satisfied that only the energy portfolio has been removed from the minister. 

PNP spokesman on Energy Julian Robinson said given the allegations surrounding the Universal Access Fund, the entire portfolio should be removed from the minister.

Petrojam, Jamaica's only oil refinery has been at the centre of a hailstorm of corruption allegations over the past few weeks, which resulted in the resignation of three Jamaican board members.

The Government has since appointed three new members, who are serving with three directors from the refinery's Venezuelan partners — Petróleos de Venezuela, SA — which holds a 49 per cent stake.

Last week, the Opposition People's National Party called for Wheatley, who also holds the science and technology portfolios, to be fired, and the country's three major private sector groups called for a forensic audit into the operations of Petrojam.

Last modified onTuesday, 03 July 2018 07:49
  • Countries: Jamaica

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