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'Prepare a report' not 'investigate', OPM tells Permanent Secretary in Petrojam saga

Published:Friday | June 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is making it clear that the Government has not asked Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology Hillary Alexander to undertake an investigation at Petrojam.

In a release yesterday, the OPM said that it has asked Alexander to prepare a report on "matters of concern and various allegations that are in the public domain regarding Petrojam Limited".

Allegations of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement have overwhelmed the state-owned oil refinery in recent times following questions that were raised first in the House of Representatives by member of Parliament for St Andrew South East Julian Robinson.

Since that time, Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee has sought answers from the management of Petrojam on several troubling issues relating to a $12-million remuneration package to the human resource manager the engagement of an overseas consultant for a local project that could have been done by its sister company, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica; and a $14-million yearly retainer fee for an entertainment and public relations company.

Three Jamaican directors resigned from the board of Petrojam on Monday. They have since been replaced.

"We wish to make it clear that Cabinet has not asked the permanent secretary to undertake an investigation as some have asserted in the media. This false assertion, deliberate or mistaken, exemplifies why the Cabinet should seek to have accurate and complete information about operations at the country's sole refinery," stated the OPM.

According to the OPM, the state-owned oil refinery "is of such great strategic interest to the growth and development of Jamaica [that] the Cabinet makes it a priority to ensure that the entity is run in an accountable and transparent manner and that the public can be reliably informed".

It said that Alexander is expected to "compile relevant information and documentation, which would already be in her domain of awareness and ambit of responsibility and that of the senior management of Petrojam".

The Auditor General's Department is currently conducting an audit at Petrojam and its parent company, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.