Sectoral Debate continues today

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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Science, Energy and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley will be the main speaker when the annual sectoral debate resumes in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

Dr Wheatley is expected to give the House an update on a number of issues affecting his portfolio, including the future of Petrojam — the country's sole oil refinery — and its Venezuelan interest; the Data Protection Act, which is currently being reviewed by a joint select committee of Parliament; as well as the issues related to spectrum management and the Universal Service Fund.

Dr Wheatley is also expected to address questions raised by Opposition spokesman on mining and energy Phillip Paulwell regarding the current cost of electricity, the facilitation of competition from the developing liquefied natural gas market, and Paulwell's demand for a rollback of general consumption tax on energy, which had been introduced to protect an energy costs hedge fund.

The minister has said that Jamaica is not abandoning the PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela; however, he has insisted that Jamaica will be repurchasing Venezuela's 49 per cent ownership of Petrojam.

He told the House of Representatives on April 24 that the necessary stakeholder consultations were conducted with Tax Administration Jamaica and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to which Venezuela's PDVSA has responded. A PDVSA legal team is expected to visit soon to examine Jamaica's response.

Other speakers today will include minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams, who is certain to address public sector wage and transformation issues; and Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Development, who will address a number of projects being undertaken by that ministry.

The House is also expected to complete the debate on the Public Procurement Act, which seeks to better regulate the procurement of goods, works and services.

The Act has not yet come into force, but this Bill will amend it to make its provisions more in keeping with internationally accepted standards and procedures for public procurement.

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