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Gov't willing to wait on Venezuelan nod on Petrojam shares

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that the government is willing to wait until the Senate debate to withdraw the Bill for compulsory acquisition of Petrojam's shares held by Venezuela's PDVCaribe.

“Let me also state for the record that we have at all relevant times prior to this moment, made it clear to PDV Caribe that if it were to agree to feasible terms for the sale of the shares, the Government of Jamaica would suspend this legislative process. Despite our various efforts, we have not, to date, had success,” Holness said.

“I want to make it clear, that were they to sign the draft Share Purchase Agreement before this debate is concluded today, the Government of Jamaica would have been willing to suspend this process and sign the agreement as well. Furthermore, if they were to do so prior to its passage in the Senate, this position would still stand,” he added.

The prime minister was opening today's debate in the House of Representatives on the Compulsory Acquisition (Shares in Petroleum Limited) Act which seeks to enable the government's right compulsory acquire the 49 per cent share in the Petrojam Refinery owned by Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company, PDV Caribe, if there is a failure to reach a mutual agreement on the recovery of the shares.

He said that the Bill had been carefully drafted to achieve the primary purpose of assuring Jamaica's energy security, without threatening its free-market policies, its promotion of foreign direct investment or its belief in and appreciation for international cooperation.

Holness noted that the Bill provides for the acquisition of the shares in Petrojam Limited not held by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, and is not intended to be of general application to this or any other sector, or any other company in any sector.

“In fact, our Government is aware that if this Bill were not specific to the particular circumstances at hand, it could have been perceived as a potential dissuasion to investors on a whole. And so, we have been careful in this regard, to ensure that the Bill achieves the primary purpose of compulsorily acquiring the 49 per cent shareholding in Petrojam Limited, in the public's interest,” the prime minister added.

Balford Henry

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