First Look

Private Sector Meeting with PM Regarding Auditor General’s Report on Petrojam Operations

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce | 2018-12-21 11:32:00

The Presidents of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) met with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, on December 13, 2018 to communicate the private sector’s high level concern regarding the conclusions of the recent Auditor General’s report on the operations of Petrojam and to seek clarification on the steps to be taken by the Government of Jamaica to remedy the manifest deficiencies revealed by the report and resolve the long standing uncertainties as to the future of the company.

The parties also took the opportunity to discuss other governance issues within the public sector and reform needed to improve the oversight and regulation of management practices within government entities.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Honourable Andrew Holness, assured the meeting that he was moving on several fronts to improve the governance framework and operations, listing the following steps which he has already taken with regard to Petrojam:

• The appointment of a new Board,
• The implementation of new procedures for retainer contracts, and
• The implementation of new reporting procedures and scope of audits.

The Prime Minister also advised that with respect to the overall improvements in governance in the public sector, he has instructed the Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr., the Honourable Nigel Clarke, to move expeditiously to implement the protocols for the nomination, selection and appointment of Directors to public boards and ensure that these protocols are in place for the twenty (20) most critical statutory boards by the fiscal year beginning March 2019.

Additionally, as it pertains to wrong-doing, the private sector leaders noted their support of demands that restitution be made with respect to ill-conceived expenditures and for the Petrojam Board to bring civil actions where appropriate. They also advised that they await the forensic audit on the oil losses as well as the findings from MOCA’s investigations which will determine if criminal charges are to be brought forward.

Of ongoing concern was the matter of the pricing mechanism employed by Petrojam. The private sector leaders recommended an independent review and certification mechanism. This proposal was favourably accepted by the Prime Minister.

The JMEA, JCC and PSOJ are satisfied that the actions being taken by the Prime Minister will go a far way in addressing the concerns and hope that this marks a change in the governance framework of public sector bodies, so that we will not have a situation like this occur again at the expense of taxpayers. The groups look forward to the implementation and enforcement of the stated recommendations and will be maintaining a keen eye on the more comprehensive set of reviews and activities being undertaken by the Board.

All parties pledged full cooperation towards the goal of improving Jamaica’s performance in ease of doing business and reducing corruption in both the public and private sector by implementing measures for accountability and sanctions for breach of procurement rules and improper awards of contracts by the public sector.

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