Sat | Oct 16, 2021

Editors' Forum | Bunting: Petrojam violations couldn’t happen on my watch

Published:Wednesday | July 3, 2019 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

Peter Bunting, the man who wants to take the reins as president of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) with his eyes set on Jamaica House, said the levels of alleged corruption, nepotism and cronyism which have engulfed a number of state agencies, including Petrojam, would never happen under his watch.

Last week, the Manchester Central member of parliament (MP), who is challenging Dr Peter Phillips for the PNP top job, told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum that “a Petrojam” would have brought down the Government of any self-respecting country in the world.

Bunting said the allegations of corruption at the state-owned oil refinery have stained the fabric of the nation, leaving everyone feeling dirty.

“I think my track record of going after corruption, identifying it way ahead of most people, speaks for itself. When I spoke about the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) used-car debacle,” Bunting, a former minister of national security, charged, labelling the arrangement as “the mother of all bandulu”.

According to him, Jamaicans should have Petrojam fatigue from all the negative news from the entity, the aftershocks of which continue to be felt.

Continuing he said: “Mark [Golding], as chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), can catalogue a number of wrong decisions. A wall that the National Works Agency (NWA) would build for $29 million at Petrojam is just stopped, and a contract for more than three times the price was given by emergency procurement,” said Bunting.

Stay away from taxpayers’ funds

“Given all that has happened, one is forced to conclude that the real motivation was to loot the company, within or outside. I draw a line clearly that politicians must stay away from taxpayers’ funds ... ,” said Bunting.

He did not say, however, how that could be achieved.

Bunting’s campaign manager, Dr Dayton Campbell, said the perceived mismanagement at state agencies such as Petrojam has had the most impact on the poor, especially those who must provide basic necessities in trying to access healthcare.

The St Ann North West MP lamented that by silencing persons with non-disclosure agreements, the Government is squandering trust not only in the administration itself but at a number of state agencies.

An report produced by the auditor general last year cited several areas of mismanagement, cronyism and breaches of policy at the agency.