Sun | Sep 23, 2018

PNP councillor raps Montague on handling of UC Rusal dilema

Published:Tuesday | June 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Hugh Graham, People’s National Party candidate for North West St Catherine.

People's National Party (PNP) candidate for North West St Catherine, Hugh Graham, has criticised Transport and Mining Minister Robert Montague for his handling of the anticipated fallout from the possible closure of UC Rusal's bauxite-mining operations in Jamaica.

Graham told The Gleaner that the minister's announcement in Parliament about setting up a task force to study the fallout from US sanctions on UC Rusal was woefully inadequate, noting that it lacked a timeline when the review would start and when it would be completed.

Graham, who is also councillor for the Lluidas Vale division of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation and a local businessman, centred his focus on the West Indies Aluminium Company (Windalco) situated in the constituency and which is owned and operated by UC Rusal.

"The urgency of the intervention cannot be underscored [enough], given the impact that any fallout will have on the more than 1,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers employed to the company, as well as businesses and other individuals who are direct and indirect beneficiaries of the bauxite plant," Graham charged.

"This situation started two months ago and I would have expected that a Government that is responsible for its citizens would have dispatched a top-level delegation to Washington to explain Jamaica's situation and the possible fallout in the event where US sanctions hit UC Rusal.

"The minister's inability to give details in his Sectoral [Debate] presentation to the Jamaican people about the timeline relating to the establishment of the task force and the omission of local stakeholders from the process is a cause for concern," Graham stated.

He described the minister's presentation as a public-relations initiative that was void of concrete steps to address the expected fallout.

"I am, therefore, calling on the Government to move with alacrity to address these concerns," the North West St Catherine PNP standard-bearer insisted.