Permanent secretary cannot investigate PetroJam breaches — PNP

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The People's National Party (PNP) is objecting to the tasking of Permanent Secretary, Hillary Alexander, to investigate and report to the Cabinet on “developing corruption and breaches” at the state-owned oil refinery, PetroJam Limited.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in a release earlier today announced that it has directed the Cabinet Secretary to task the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) to prepare a report on the operations of Petrojam with specific attention to various allegations in the public domain.

However, in a statement responding to the OPM's decision, Opposition Shadow Minister of Energy, Phillip Paulwell said it is inappropriate to task Alexander with the role because, “in her role as permanent secretary in MSET, [she] is the accounting officer, responsible for the day-to-day and overall management of entities falling under the MSET, such as PetroJam”.

“It is clear that some of the breaches in the PetroJam crisis stem from managerial and oversight weaknesses in the ministry, for which Ms Alexander must take responsibility. Investigation, therefore, is an inappropriate role for the accounting officer who should be telling the country what she [knows] and when on many of the reported breaches,” said Phillips.

Paulwell said the PNP “absolutely repudiates the Cabinet's decision to designate Alexander as the investigator because it does not inspire public confidence that the government is serious about the investigation rather than setting up an escape hatch for their ministerial colleagues”.

He said too, that the Cabinet should “wheel and come again” and set up a transparent mechanism which will be able to ensure that the corruption is discovered and rooted out and whoever is responsible is identified and punished.

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