Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Consumer advocate lashes Gov’t over bad gas payout

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2020 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter

THE HEAD of one local consumer protection group believes consumers should feel offended by the offer of a $24.5-million compensation package for those who suffered from the purchase of contaminated gas in 2015.

Michael Diamond, president of the Consumers Intervention of Jamaica, said he was personally dissatisfied with the value of the compensation. More than 380 motorists are to receive a portion of the $24.5-million payment that was made by the government-owned Petrojam Ethanol Limited to the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC).

“The Government gets money from taxpayers, so it would almost seem as if the victims are paying for their own compensation,” the consumer advocate told The Gleaner yesterday.

“The way that the Government proceeded at the initial stage, it really gave everyone the impression that the Government would be advocating on their behalf and that wasn’t the case. The Government actually protected the multinationals and they actually declared that their bad gas issue was resolved,” he noted.

Source of funds

Diamond said that while he welcomed the fact that motorists would now be compensated, the Government should disclose the source of the $24.5 million.

“Even though there was a task force established, to say that there is no culprit or source of the bad gas is not only irresponsible, it is disingenuous,” said Diamond.

The CAC has started contacting those who are to benefit from the compensation package. Minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, said that this recent development was proof that consumer rights would be protected.

“This is a victory for the consumers,” he declared during a press conference to disclose the process for individuals to secure compensation.

Once contacted, the aggrieved motorists will be given a date to visit the CAC office. They are required to take with them their identification, tax registration number and banking details so that the money can be sent to them electronically. Persons will also be required to sign an indemnity form that discharges the CAC and Petrojam Ethanol Limited from further claims or liabilities relating to the bad gas incident.

“Once we have all of that, very soon, within two weeks, you should be receiving your payment,” Chief Executive Officer of the CAC, Dolsie Allen, stated during the virtual press conference yesterday.

“Certainly, it has been a long haul and we really want to get rid of this situation. We want to dispose of it very quickly; we want to put it behind us and to move on into other aspects of our work,” she said.

Of the 381 consumers to be compensated, only 287 will be getting 100 per cent of what they had claimed. Of all those who submitted claims, 42 individuals will not be receiving any money.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams, said she was pleased that the country could finally put to rest the 2015 bad gas issue.