Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Foreign experts decline Petrojam board seats

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 12:14 AMSteven Jackson/Business Reporter
Energy Minister Fayval Williams addressing yesterday’s press conference.
Energy Minister Fayval Williams addressing yesterday’s press conference.

Two foreign experts have declined board appointments at the scandal-hit state-owned oil refinery Petrojam.

Energy Minister Fayval Williams expects to reconstitute the full board by year end.

“If you are not a Jamaican familiar to the cut and thrust of politics in Jamaica, then to hear questions being asked, it is not a comfortable situation,” she told journalists at a press briefing at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa in St Andrew yesterday.

The Opposition has raised questions on whether the state agency should have foreigners among its board members.

Last year, the Auditor General’s Department uncovered several improprieties at Petrojam, ranging from questionable human resource practices, lack of transparency in donations, financial irregularities, and management and oversight failures, among other things.

A Petrojam Review Committee led by businessman Chris Zacca made 12 recommendations, including the setting up of a fully functional board as soon as possible, with an appropriate mix of private- and public-sector individuals with the requisite skills. It suggested that the Government find board members with competent skills “far and wide” across the globe.

“One person, in particular, had a lot of experience in the field. But again, we will do our due diligence in Jamaica,” Williams added. “We have good prospects, and before the end of the year, we should have Cabinet approval.”

The articles of incorporation for Petrojam allows for up to 10 directors, she pointed out.

The review committee also said the Government should consider leasing the state-owned refinery and commission a petroleum industry enterprise team to chart its exit from the operational management of Petrojam.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com