Letters to the Editor

Petrojam situation still unsettled

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Let me be absolutely clear, any government that works in the interest of the people and the country will always have my support.

When global oil prices fell from over US$140 to under US$35 a barrel, this writer called attention to the way State-owned oil refinery Petrojam was pricing the commodity. Gasoline prices in Jamaica hardly came down. In fact, Petrojam was playing Russian roulette with the country's gasoline prices.

In the United States, which also adheres to world oil prices, gasoline prices came down from over US$4 a gallon to under US$2 a gallon. No one protested about the high prices in Jamaica, even though just about every aspect of the economy is affected by it. The population was too passive. Europe and other nations wouldn't have tolerated.

Petrojam's excuse is that gasoline prices is not only affected by oil price alone — there are other factors. Yet, when global oil prices go up they raise gasoline prices accordingly. And, to make matters worse, Opposition Leader Peter Phillips, who was finance minister at the time, decided in his infinite wisdom to put a surcharge on gasoline to pay for an ill-advised and senseless oil hedge which cost the country millions of dollars.

Therefore, the recent scandal at the refinery should come as no surprise to anyone because the writing was clearly on the wall. The country didn't benefit from the oil gift from Venezuela. For this the so-called political leaders, or fakers, should be ashamed of themselves. The country endured during the high-oil price era, and when the price finally came down the country on a whole didn't benefit from it.

Although I'm a former union officer in local district 9, United Steel Workers of America, I'm not familiar with Jamaica's labour laws. But when an employee is cited for 19 and it is proven that you committed these infractions, you should expect to be fired. And nothing should be done about it.

The auditor general's report on Petrojam is in, and no answers on the missing oil has come forward. No window dressing is needed, all that is needed is a criminal investigation.

Noel Mitchell

Westchester, New York


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