Fri | May 29, 2020

Private sector groups call for forensic audit of Petrojam, Universal Access Fund

Published:Monday | June 25, 2018 | 6:22 PM

Three of the island's leading private sector groups have called for a forensic audit of the affairs of oil refinery Petrojam and the Universal Access Fund, both agencies of the Technology and Energy Ministry.

In a statement this afternoon, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica also called for Cabinet to take immediate steps to ensure the effective monitoring and supervision of all public boards and to report to Parliament and the public their activities.

“These actions and their successful implementation are essential to preserving and advancing recent gains by Jamaica on the global competitive and corruption perception indices and hesitant or indecisive responses will risk serious slippage,” the groups argued.

They contend that the proposed remedial action should not be limited to repairing the deficiencies at Petrojam as a cleaning up exercise.

“The truth, which should now be evident to all but the willfully blind, is that Petrojam is but a particularly bad example of the chronic malfunctioning of our Statutory Boards and a case study in how the piecemeal and dysfunctional administration of governance processes allows for the plundering of state resources, panders to cronyism and provides fertile soil for corruption,” the private organisations said.

They charged that the time is right for strong, decisive and comprehensive action.

See Full Statement

The undersigned organisations acknowledge the most honourable Prime Minister's expressed resolve to take strong action to repair the reputational and financial damage to both Jamaica and the Petrojam refinery by sorting out the controversial issues of mismanagement, which are alleged to have occurred.

The refinery is a valuable national asset and critical to Jamaica’s modernisation efforts and growth ambitions. However, preserving our country’s reputation for ethics and transparency in the conduct of its affairs is critical in building our attractiveness to investment and confidence in our economy.

We therefore respectfully submit, that the proposed remedial action should not be limited to repairing the deficiencies at Petrojam nor should the opposition, in its determined and motivated search for answers to the many serious questions now in the public domain be satisfied with only a “clean up” of Petrojam.

The truth, which should now be evident to all but the wilfully blind, is that Petrojam is but a particularly bad example of the chronic malfunctioning of our Statutory Boards and a case study in how the piecemeal and dysfunctional administration of governance processes allows for the plundering of state resources, panders to cronyism and provides fertile soil for corruption.

Accordingly, we fully expect that, in addition to ordering a full forensic audit of the affairs of both Petrojam and the Universal Access Fund, the cabinet will take immediate steps to ensure the effective monitoring and supervision of all of the public boards and the reporting to Parliament and the public of their activities. These actions and their successful implementation are essential to

preserving and advancing recent gains by Jamaica on the global competitive and corruption perception indices and hesitant or indecisive responses will risk serious slippage.

We further anticipate that the opposition will cooperate and participate in the strengthening of these governance processes as it is self-evident that the issues that are now coming to light in the affairs of Petrojam are not of recent vintage and cross partisan political lines. We are confirmed in our belief that investment and business confidence will not thrive in an atmosphere of suspicion and rumour as to how the public boards are managed and if public funds are distributed as “scarce benefits and spoils” or to fatten the pockets of politicians and their friends.

We are firm in the belief that the time is right for strong, decisive and comprehensive action in the above terms and stand ready to fully support such action.

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