Tue | Jul 23, 2019

JLP Central Exec: Examine Petrojam audit report - Gov't MP fires back at Bunting

Published:Monday | December 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
The Petrojam oil refinery in Kingston.

The second-highest decision-making arm of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), the Central Executive, unanimously agreed yesterday to endorse the auditor general's report on Petrojam being examined by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

This is after government members turned down a request on Friday by PAC Chairman Mark Golding, an opposition member of parliament, for the report to be examined by the committee on Tuesday.

The JLP Central Executive, after a meeting at the party's Belmont Road, New Kingston, headquarters, yesterday, said that the auditor general's report should be placed before the PAC "as soon as is practicably possible".

"The Central Executive affirmed that maintenance of public trust in public institutions is crucial to the proper functioning of our democracy and reaffirmed its position that instances of misuse of public funds and nepotism should not go unsanctioned," JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang said in a statement yesterday.

In the meantime, Government Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert Flynn has rejected claims that there is an approach being adopted by the Government side to deliberately prevent the PAC from examining the findings of the damning Petrojam audit report, which has cast a shadow over the entity's operations.

Opposition MP Peter Bunting made the assertion on Friday after government MPs frowned on a proposal.

"When I contrast the demands being made to push through the Bill to Amend the BOJ Act, where there is no crisis, to the deliberate attempts to frustrate the PAC from examining the Petrojam report, which literally screams crisis, then I must conclude that the Government is taking a hypocritical approach to the work of the parliamentary committees," Bunting said, commenting on the Government's approach.

But in rejecting the assertion, Cuthbert Flynn said that she had not completed reading the report.

"There is no hypocrisy or trying to delay the PAC meeting. I, for one, was called on Friday to attend a meeting Tuesday. I informed I was not yet through reading the report and would need time. [I] said I would attend if time was given ... ," the MP representing West Rural St Andrew said on Twitter yesterday.

The audit report, which was tabled in Parliament last Tuesday, outlined instances of management overriding procurement guidelines and inconsistent recruitment and employment practices, including explicit acts of nepotism.

The report also highlighted $18 billion in estimated oil losses recorded over the last five years and exposed how former general manager of Petrojam, Floyd Grindley, approved payments of approximately $2.6 million for two "surprise" parties.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com