Thu | Aug 22, 2019

Letter of the Day | Why didn't Gov't swipe Russian's bauxite stake?

Published:Monday | January 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

This Holness Government never ceases to amaze in its contradictions and hypocrisy, coupled with the shallow thinking of top-ranking members of the political executive.

The Government, in an unprecedented move, announced on January 7, 2019, that it was about to introduce in Parliament legislation to compulsorily acquire the 49 per cent shares in the Petrojam refinery owned by the Government of Venezuela, through a state-owned entity PDV Caribe. Stripped of the rigmarole about energy security, the dispute is about price.

The other arguments, particularly the sanctions and international trade issues, raise the issue of hypocrisy and double standards.

The Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, is a significant player in the Jamaican bauxite and alumina industry through his majority ownership of UC Rusal, which owns Windalco. Mr Deripaska has been indicted in the US by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for being among a group of about 12 Russians who are accused of interfering in the US presidential elections in 2016.

How come the Government has never been concerned about Mr Deripaska or moved to chase him out of Jamaica and acquire Windalco in Jamaica's interest?

In fact, our Government has made representations to the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to assist Windalco and to help the Russian oligarch. Venezuela and Maduro, who has had no such charge against him, got no such benefit.

I could be wrong, but if the Government take such a decision in the interest of Jamaica's energy security based on foreign oil, how much more important it should be to secure our economic future based on bauxite, which is mined here?

Our foreign policy should be based on the clear principles of transparency and equality and in the best of Jamaica's economy.

MICHAEL BELLAMY

mmbellamy1975@gmail.com

Braeton, St Catherine