FORMER Prime Minister Bruce Golding yesterday dismissed as untrue, a claim by Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell that the previous Government's negotiations to sell its shares in Clarendon Alumina Partners (CAP) were nowhere near complete.
According to Golding, the sale terms had been "tediously negotiated" and all that was left to be done was for the agreement to be submitted to Alcoa, which holds a 50 per cent stake in CAP.
Golding explained that under the terms of the Jamalco joint venture, Alcoa would have had 90 days in which to either agree to the proposal or submit an equivalent or better offer.
In an article submitted to the Jamaica Observer, Golding said he needed to set the record straight after Paulwell's comment in Parliament.
Paulwell had said that his comment was informed by communications between Glencore and the former Government's negotiating team just before the December 2011 general election, which included a number of "conditions-precedent", that had not been met.
Paulwell said that the current Government has formed a new negotiating team, which has settled new arrangements and is awaiting approval from Alcoa and Glencore by month-end.
But Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw told journalists last Friday that Paulwell's statement was "totally false".
He said that the negotiations under the previous Government were being led by then Prime Minister Golding, supported by a special enterprise team that included a former minister of mining, Hugh Hart.
"As far as we know, the negotiations were pretty well advanced with Glencore," Shaw said.
Yesterday, Golding gave a chronological outline of the negotiations and said that the broad terms of the proposed sale agreement with Glencore were confirmed in a letter from Glencore dated October 5, 2011 and were approved by Cabinet shortly before he demitted office in the latter part of that month.
"It may be that the new Administration did not favour the terms of the agreement that had been so tediously negotiated," said Golding. "If so, it should say so and state its reasons. But unless there was some subsequent development of which I am unaware, it is grossly incorrect to say that the divestment of CAP was not imminent."
Read full text of Golding's article here: 'The CAP divestment story'