Bunting walks out of meeting on BOJ over Petrojam

Monday, December 10, 2018

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Opposition spokesman on industry, and investment Peter Bunting says he will no longer participate in meetings of the joint select committee (JSC) which is reviewing amendments to the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Act, until the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meets to examine the auditor general's report on its investigations into the operations of Petrojam.

Bunting walked out of Saturday's meeting held at the Bank of Jamaica, downtown Kingston, protesting what he said was a deliberate attempt by the Government to block the PAC, of which he is a member, from examining the damning Petrojam report.

The report, which was tabled in Parliament last week, detailed disturbing accounts of, among other things, deficiencies in the oversight of the former Petrojam Board in the monitoring of the refinery's operations; breakdown in resource management; poor due diligence for procurement processes; and deficiencies in human resource recruitment. It also included a compendium of a review of parent company Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ).

At Saturday's meeting of the Dr Nigel Clarke-chaired JSC on the BOJ Bill, Bunting argued that: “When I contrast the demands being made to push through the Bill to Amend the BOJ Act, where there is no crisis, to the deliberate attempts to frustrate the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) from examining the PetroJam report which literally screams crisis, then I must conclude that the Government is taking a hypocritical approach to the work of the parliamentary committees.”

He said that while weekend meetings of parliamentary committees have been held in the past, these are usually as a result of an externally imposed deadline, such as an International Monetary Fund benchmark. “There is no obvious urgency in the instant case”, he stated.

“Last week the auditor general tabled a damning report highlighting the waste, corruption and nepotism at Petrojam. The chairman of the PAC attempted to set a meeting of the committee to examine this report for next Tuesday, December 11th, 2018.

“The Government members have frustrated this request, and the next available date given for a PAC meeting is the 29th of January 2019, which is almost two months after receipt of the report,” Bunting stated in a release following the walkout.

He further stated: “The priority must be to staunch the haemorrhaging of resources at PCJ/Petrojam and to get to the bottom of the very disturbing issues exposed in the Report. The Public Accounts Committee has a duty to immediately examine this Report that has automatically been referred to the PAC by virtue of the standing orders.”

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