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JAMAICA | JLP questions PNP's patriotism in its response to Govt's expropriation plan

Featured JLP General Secretary Dr. Horace Chang JLP General Secretary Dr. Horace Chang
KINGSTON, Jamaica, January 9, 2018 - JLP General Secretary, Dr. Horace Chang, is expressing shock at the reaction by the Opposition PNP and its spokespersons, Phillip Paulwell and Lisa Hanna, to the Government move to respond to the urgent need to protect Jamaica’s energy security by acquiring Venezuela’s 49-percent stake in Petrojam.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, disclosed yesterday that the decision of the Government was made following protracted  unsuccessful negotiations with our valued partners in Venezuela.

Minister Johnson Smith further explained that the decision was made in the context of the increasing threat to the viability of Petrojam both from sanctions imposed by the USA and changing local demand market conditions. The decision became even more immanent because we could not secure an agreement with our joint venture partner on the upgrade of the finery, which would put Petrojam in a place to mitigate against the fall off in demand for heavy fuel oil when JPS shifts a large portion of its electricity production to LNG.

Despite the aforementioned context which was clearly articulated by Minister Johnson Smith, Paulwell and Hanna, hastily elected to issue a lengthy media release in which they argued Venezuela’s case while at the same time chiding the Government of Jamaica for acting on an issue that threats energy security and economic growth of the country.

Dr. Chang says he’s disappointed in the response of PNP and the indication that it will not support the bill which will propose for Jamaica to take ultimate charge of its energy security. The JLP General Secretary says the media release from the Opposition must cause the reasonable minded Jamaican, who has the country’s interest at heart, to question the patriotism of the PNP and its agents.

Shadow of Minister of Energy, Mr. Phillip Paulwell,  said the Opposition was against the hostile takeover of the shares in Petrojam of the Government of Venezuela. He said this premature and rushed expropriation of the shares is unwarranted as both sides were in talks to reach a negotiated settlement.

Paulwell said the expropriation will cause ripple effects to be felt in the local and international investor community for some time. This hostile approach is uncharacteristic of Jamaica, and may, in fact, be detrimental to our future negotiating capacity with other foreign investors.

"The expropriation of investor property must always be a last resort, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, and only after exhausting all reasonable avenues for an amicable settlement," Paulwell said.

The Opposition said it strongly felt that the negotiating effort was weak, having been left almost solely to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. This present situation requires further explanation, particularly as it relates to the country’s energy security and our future relationship with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

  • Countries: Jamaica

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