Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Ensure PAC discusses Petrojam audit by mid-January or else, Opposition warns

Published:Tuesday | December 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips (centre) addresses a press conference about the operations at Petrojam at his office yesterday, alongside Phillip Paulwell (left), opposition spokesman on mining and energy, and People’s National Party General Secretary Julian Robinson.

The parliamentary Opposition has given the Andrew Holness administration a deadline of mid-January to ensure that the findings of a comprehensive audit of the state-owned oil refinery Petrojam are examined by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC).

"Should that not take place, it is going to threaten our usual cooperation in the parliamentary process," Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips warned.

"We think that the matter is of such fundamental importance that nothing else will do."

However, Phillips made it clear that the St James and St Catherine North states of public emergency, which come up for extension in January, will not be affected.

"We certainly don't think that the matter of public security or the weighty constitutional issue of a state of emergency should be used as a kind of quid pro quo for anything else," the opposition leader said during a press conference at his office yesterday.

"The security of the Jamaican people is something we treat on its own."

Last Wednesday, chairman of the PAC, Mark Golding, wrote to members of the committee requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the findings of the Petrojam audit, which point to "explicit acts of nepotism, corruption and breaches of the Government's procurement guidelines".

But by Friday, one government member, who is also part of the executive, responded in a letter to the Parliament, indicating that "none of the government members are available for the meeting".

The letter also stated that the government members, who form the majority on the PAC, "are not in support of the meeting being convened".

Central executive has, however, affirmed that PAC must consider the auditor general's report.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com