Opposition Spokesman on Energy, Phillip Paulwell has warned that competitors with access to cheaper sources of fuel could soon put Petrojam out of business.
Paulwell issued the warning last Tuesday during his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives. He is urging the Government to take “decisive action” now to prevent such a scenario from becoming a reality.
“I do support competition in the market, but we have to give Petrojam a fighting chance. On its current trajectory the aim seems to be to have its refining capacity mothballed and it becoming only a port for imports,” Paulwell said.
He also reiterated his criticism of the government over its delay on implementing the recommendations of the Zacca Report that was issued in 2018 following the Petrojam scandal.
“In 2018, the Zacca Report on the Petrojam Oil Refinery was commissioned and tabled in the House with much fanfare. Yet, nothing has come of it and Jamaica is five years on. I don’t support all the recommendations in Zacca Report but, at least, let’s debate it here. From the time we were told that the Zacca Report is with Cabinet I truly believe that cannot be so,” said Paulwell.
The former energy minister argued that despite issues of the past, Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery has served the country well.
“We have never run out of fuel supplies, and we should continue to pay tribute to the management and staff, the overwhelming majority of whom have been decent, loyal and professional in their functions at the company. Respect is due but we must not give them baskets to carry water”.
And Paulwell repeated his call for the Economy and Production Committee of the Parliament to “see this as an urgent matter for its deliberations”.
Paulwell also noted that in his sectoral presentation last year, the Minister of Energy, Daryl Vaz denied that the Zacca Report was gathering dust and said recommendations for the privatisation and future of the refinery were still before Cabinet for consideration.
“Another year has passed, Minister, and inaction persists,” he said.