Thu | May 23, 2019

Letter of the Day | Lock up Petrojam pirates

Published:Monday | December 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I read the auditor general's report on Petrojam, and as a young Jamaican, I must confess that I felt an immense sense of hurt, anger, and betrayal.

The revelations are shocking:

- A birthday cake for $120,000.

- Lavish personal parties for the minister and board chairman at a cost of $2.6 million.

- An unqualified HR manager who hired her unqualified brother.

- Questionable expenditure on counselling and consultancy services amounting to almost $15 million.

- $5 billion worth of oil unaccounted for.

All this while Petrojam is in financial straits and has to be seeking loans to stay afloat. These are all occurrences that took place under the present JLP administration.

Our history is replete with examples of corruption by both political parties. However, past corruption should never be used to justify present corruption. It was wrong then, it is wrong now. Any individual who seeks to defend the sordid activities at Petrojam by referencing previous acts of corruption does not have Jamaica's best interest at heart.

We must stop the practice of saying that the previous government was also corrupt, as it gives the present administration comfort from the resulting argument of who is more corrupt, and the fight to stomp out corruption gets lost.

We must agree that corruption, whenever it occurs, wherever, and by whomever, is a crime against the citizens of Jamaica and should not be tolerated. We must agree that it is wrong for qualified individuals to be overlooked for jobs because of nepotism and it's wrong for public officials to profit from the public purse.

There is the view that only the poor and politically unconnected citizens get punished and that nothing will come from the Petrojam saga. Too many people believe that 'a just suh di ting set'.This is an opportunity to prove the cynic wrong and to make Jamaicans believe again.

It is, therefore, imperative that the prime minister act swiftly and decisively. If he fails to act, the relevant anti-corruption agencies, such as MOCA and the Integrity Commission, must. Civil society and all progressive Jamaicans must be relentless. The cycle must be broken.

ZULEIKA JESS

Attorney-at-Law

Caretaker,

Central Clarendon