Opposition leader expresses full confidence in Paulwell

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Leader of Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, says he has full confidence in Phillip Paulwell as the Opposition Spokesman on Mining and Energy and he will not be removed from that responsibility.

Phillips gave his motion of confidence following a statement by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) General Secretary, Dr Horace Chang, today calling for the resignation or dismissal of Phillip Paulwell as Shadow Minister of Mining and Energy in light of his involvement in the Petrojam scandal.

He said that it is evidence that the present administration has no plans to deal with the deepening crisis of corruption, nepotism, maladministration and possible criminal behaviour which has engulfed the state-owned Petrojam.

“It is instead resorted to a campaign of distraction and false equivalence and conflation to distract public's attention from the evident failure of the administration's stewardship of the energy portfolio.

“Dr Andrew Wheatley was forced to step down for evidence of his dereliction of his ministerial duty spanning several agencies under his portfolio. This includes the Petrojam, which now requires the expertise of forensic auditors to uncover the extent of corruption, misappropriation and criminal wrongdoing at the refinery,” the party chief argued.

Phillips said that on the contrary to the JLP's statement, there is overwhelming evidence that during Paulwell's tenure during the last PNP administration, steps were taken to reduce the oil loss revenue to below industry standard, which stood at 49,000 barrels when he demitted office.

“This is better than the international industry standard and was projected to fall even lower had it not been for the intervention of the JLP administration.

“As soon as the government changed, the losses were allowed to skyrocket during the tenure of former Minister Andrew Wheatley, without explanation. As the AG's report highlighted, the losses climbed to 184,000 barrels, representing millions of dollars in losses,” he said.

He said that all of the safeguards that were painstakingly put in place to guard against leakage and to protect the country's revenue were willfully ignored, resulting in the discovery by PDVSA as revealed in their February 2018 audit and now verified by the Auditor General's report that billions of dollars in unexplained losses.

Phillips added that Prime Minister Andrew Holness now needs to explain the real reason behind his reluctance to instruct that a comprehensive audit of the Petrojam Refinery, and why internal audit questions were ignored and not answered.

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