Explain sudden decision to close Petroleum Corporation, PNP urges gov't

Explain sudden decision to close Petroleum Corporation, PNP urges gov't

Friday, September 13, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — People's National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of Mining and Energy, Phillip Paulwell is calling on both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Energy, Fayval Williams, to justify the Cabinet's decision to close the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and subsume its functions into the Ministry of Mining, Energy and Technology.

In a statement this afternoon, Paulwell said that the government's decision is “curious, ill-advised, and will plunge Jamaica's energy sector into uncertainty, and create a crisis in the sector.”

He argued that the announcement of the closure of such an important Government statutory corporation should not be approached as casually as it were yesterday in a staff meeting at the PCJ.

According to Paulwell, so ill-considered and ill-timed was the policy decision, it came on the eve of the first meeting of the reinstated Energy Council.

He said the decision to close down the PCJ was taken without the benefit of any discussion with the council, the Parliamentary Opposition or consultation with industry stakeholders.

The PNP Shadow Minister recalled that the PCJ was established by statute in 1979, as Jamaica's policy response to the world's energy crisis, aspects of which persist today. He said the need for a specialised energy sector agency remains necessary to conduct the day-to-day management of one of Jamaica most critical sectors of industry, commerce and domestic households.

Paulwell said the government must provide a detailed statement on the way forward and how the Ministry could take on the functions of the PCJ while simultaneously absorbing the responsibilities of the NESoL, a decision announced by the prime minister some months ago.

He said the statement should also include what would become of the oil and gas exploration projects, for which PCJ is holding and supervising contracts for the continuing offshore investigations. He also wants to know, how the Cabinet decision would affect the future of Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery, of which PCJ is the parent company.

Paulwell also expressed concern for the PCJ workers and called on the minister to immediately say what would become of the highly skilled members of the PCJ workforce and how many would be absorbed by the Ministry.

“The staff welfare is very important and the feasibility of Ministry absorbing the agency's staff should be thoroughly examined,” he said.

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