Tue | Feb 19, 2019

Privatise Petrojam - Chang

Published:Tuesday | December 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
CHANG

WESTERN BUREAU:

Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has said that the Government should move to privatise Petrojam because it is not viable for the State to own an oil refinery, given the most recent discoveries of nepotism, among other things.

"But, the truth is, there is no need for Government to own an oil refinery, there is no rationale to it," Chang said at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual awards banquet in Montego Bay on Saturday night.

"An oil refinery is a commercial activity that has to be owned by business people, run by businessmen whose interest is to have the most efficient plant operation and get the best business deal for the plant. That is just plain common sense," he noted. "I know it was there before. We took it over, and it should have gone back there a long time."

Chang said that the Government has come to accept and appreciate that there are certain things that should be left to government and others to the private sector.

"Even where you have some that have government involvement, like in some of the utilities and infrastructure, you are better off having them on the marketplace where shareholders can participate, and hold the management to market discipline," the national security minister said.

Dr Chang said further, "If you have that kind of discipline, we would not have the kind of ongoing activities around a number of issues, including the recent Petrojam case, which the Government will be taking some decision on, which will be dealt with by the prime minister. It is now in his portfolio, and he will be indicating to the nation what action he will take."

Almost a week ago, the nation's Parliament received a damning report from Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis on the operations of Petrojam and its parent company the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.

The Auditor General's Department's report on the operations revealed that Petrojam's general manager approved payments for invoices totalling US$21,767, or approximately J$2.6 million, for two parties in Montego Bay, St James.

albert.ferguson@gleanerjm.com