Sat | Aug 17, 2019

At PCJ, tail wags the dog

Published:Friday | December 14, 2018 | 12:21 AM


A gasp emanated from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on Petrojam recently when the chief internal auditor stated that she was barred by Petrojam managers from conducting an audit of the state oil refinery. I can't say I have ever heard anything quite so ludicrous.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is the parent company of Petrojam. That bears repeating. If ever there was a case of the tail wagging the dog, this would have to be it. Why not just simply report that instance of gross insubordination to the PCJ senior management and have that decision overturned. The answer is quite simple.

Petrojam provides the lion's share of funds for the operation of PCJ. So the PCJ parent seems to have become subservient to the child.

I suppose that the chief financial officer at PCJ will now tell the PAC that he/she had no idea of all the financial transactions that took place at Petrojam.

However, while the focus has been on Petrojam, I must implore the media, civil society, the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) and the PAC to keep the light shining brightly on PCJ.

The auditor general's report indicates that several persons have been recently employed at the PCJ, without the positions being advertised. What are these positions and what are the qualifications of the persons who fill them? For example, what qualifications does the LNG consultant possess? Have they worked in LNG before, and, if so, in what capacity, and what are their academic qualifications?

These persons should be named and questioned before the PAAC so we can get a better understanding as to why they were employed without the positions being advertised, and if their qualifications justify their appointments.

If, as the AG's report states, just one of these persons commands a salary of more than $7 million, 10 such people will be earning $70 million. If they were engaged using the proper channels and are duly qualified, this would be $70 million well spent. If not, this is untenable. As a country, we certainly deserved way better than this.