Petrojam GM out

Cabinet releases new policy guidelines

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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The general manager of the scandal-hit oil refinery, Petrojam, Floyd Grindley, has resigned.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the disclosure in a statement to the House of Representatives yesterday, saying that Grindley had agreed to separate from the company and new arrangements would be announced shortly for its management and leadership.

Grindley, who became general manager of the refinery in November 2016, was one of two senior managers, the other being Human Resources Manager Yolande Ramharrack, whose resignations were demanded by some irate employees of the company last week.

An engineering graduate of The University of the West Indies (UWI), he is a former partner of US engineering and construction firm Hargrave Engineers and Contractors. Before that he worked with Kaiser Bauxite and Alcoa in Jamaica.

According to the prime minister, Grindley's departure was among several decisions reached after a Cabinet review of a report from the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and interviews with the senior management of the oil refinery.

However, Holness said that it was clear from interviewing the acting permanent secretary and the officers of the Energy Division that the central ministry (Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology headed by Dr Andrew Wheatley) was not aware, or was made aware after the fact, of most of the instances of maladministration at Petrojam.

Holness noted that Petrojam is a self-financing public body, in the form of a limited liability company jointly owned by PDV Caribe of Venezuela and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, a statutory body owned by the Government of Jamaica,

“It has a board that is responsible for the good governance and management of the operations in keeping with the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, and is required to conform with all policy guidelines as may be set by the Government from time to time,” the prime minister stated.

He also pointed out that the board reports directly to the minister, not the permanent secretary, and takes policy directions from the minister.

“The Cabinet is satisfied that there are indications where the previous board may have departed from policy, and where certain actions, such as personally making travel arrangements, would be in breach of policy guidelines,” he added.

He noted that, to this end, the Cabinet has acted to reconstitute the board with the appointment of former chairman of Supreme Ventures Limited Paul Hoo, as its new chairman; and two former vice-presidents of Scotiabank, Rosie Pilner and Wayne Powell, as directors.

The new board, he said, has had its orientation with the Petrojam staff, and has started to give oversight and direction to governance and management of the company.

He informed the House that, in light of public concerns and issues which have affected the staff, the Cabinet has given the board general directions to settle the staff industrial relations environment at the company, ensure that the management is efficient and effective, and return the refinery to full operations in the shortest possible time, as a matter of urgency.

He also explained that the refinery is now in a routine maintenance mode almost two weeks beyond the projected timeline, which has created some supply disruption, mainly in bitumen for asphalt.

The new leadership of the refinery has also been directed to examine the management systems, including accounting, administrative, procurement, and human resource management, for weakness and make the necessary changes both in systems and personnel to ensure effective operations in the short term.

Holness said that the Cabinet's review of the permanent secretary's report and interview of senior personnel in the ministry's Energy Division and Petrojam, revealed that the process of approval by board members needed greater oversight.

“All official travel of public officials, which would include board members, must be recommended by the permanent secretary for the cabinet secretary's approval,” he told the House.

However, he admitted it was not always the case that certain actions, such as personally making travel arrangements, would be in breach of policy guidelines, as it is not always the case that ministers, who appoint board members, are aware of travel requests.

“Cabinet has therefore refined the procedures for travel to mandate that all board travel, whether it is from Jamaica to attend a conference, or from elsewhere to attend a board meeting in Jamaica, must have the approval of the minister, through the permanent secretary, and then onto the cabinet secretary,” he stated.

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