Caribbean observing how we deal with Trafigura crisis, warns Hylton
Minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade Senator Anthony Hylton says that the rest of the Caribbean is watching to see how Jamaica handles the issue of the controversial payments to the People’s National Party (PNP) by Dutch oil trading firm Trafigura Beheer.
“The Caribbean is looking to us. The Caribbean islands are not gloating and are not interested in the fallaciousness of Trafigura and what happened,” Hylton told Friday’s meeting of the Senate. “They are looking at the larger issue, which is how we respond to the challenges that Trafigura exemplifies.”
He said that the world was watching to see how Jamaica would respond, and the Caribbean was looking to Jamaica for leadership in terms of dealing with these issues.
The Government and the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) have been embroiled in controversy since October 3 when Opposition Leader Bruce Golding revealed that the PNP received a donation of $31 million from Trafigura, which lifts and sells Nigerian crude oil on the international market for Jamaica.
The PNP had said that the money was a donation for electioneering, but Trafigura said it was payment on a commercial arrangement.
The crisis has led to Colin Campbell resigning his jobs as information and development minister and PNP general-secretary.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has also instructed the PNP to return the money to Trafigura.
On Friday, Senator Hylton said that while the payment was not illegal, it was embarrassing. However, he insisted that the issue was no longer a partisan one and each Parliamentarian would have to say how he or she stood on the matter.
“Trafigura was a clear and present danger. It was an accident waiting to happen, because we have no law, no regulations to deal with it,” the minister said.
He added that if the country failed to seize the opportunity and act on the issue, then no one involved in the political process could feel safe and secure in the knowledge that it is not occurring elsewhere.
He said that while there was the need for an elaborate and comprehensive system, that would take some time but it should not be a recipe for inaction.
“The fact that we can’t get it right, or to get everything perfect, means that we should act now and decisively to close those obvious loopholes and the ones that are easily susceptible to resolution,” Hylton said. “We know what those are, because we have agreed on them jointly and we have accepted a framework which should be the minimum set of measures that we can take now.”