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Auditor general finds 'explicit acts of nepotism' at Petrojam

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Yesterday's report from Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis found inconsistencies in the recruitment and selection processes at the State-owned-oil refinery Petrojam, indicating “explicit acts of nepotism”.

The audit, which examined the operations of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and its affiliate, the state-owned oil refinery Petrojam, found evidence in which two individuals were employed despite being rejected by the interviewing panel.

In the first instance, an individual was initially interviewed on January 18, 2018 for the position of process engineer on the - Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU) Project and was rejected by a four member interview panel on the basis of lack of industry, engineering and project experience.

Of note, the audit pointed out that three members of the panel were senior officers on the VDU Project.

Twenty-six days later, on February 13, 2018, the individual was re-interviewed for the same position by the human resource development and administration (HRDA) manager, who wasYolande Ramharrack at the time, and the technical service manager, who were not part of the first interview panel.

The AGD revealed that the individual was then recommended “for a more strategic role on the project given intellect, expertise and strategic competencies”.

The individual was employed as the head of the project in the capacity as director, VDU Project — a position which was not included on the staff structure for the project.

The AGD said the decision by the HRDA manager and technical service manager to overturn the decision of the interview panel without justification illustrates deficiencies in Petrojam's recruitment process.

In the second instance, the AGD said Ramharrack employed her sibling in the position of instrument and electrical technician, although the individual was rejected by the interview panel on May 10, 2017, on the basis of lack of experience and qualification.

It said this engagement was an explicit act of nepotism.

“The manager, HRDA, breached Petrojam's Employment Policy, which prohibits the employment of siblings. Further, the manager, HRDA's sibling was shortlisted although the position was only advertised internally.”

In both instances, the AGD said Ramharrack also breached Section 1 of the Employment Policy, which states that “the employment and promotion of an individual will be based upon that individual experience, qualifications, competency, and potential”.

Petrojam at the same time records indicated that it recruited 76 new employees between January 2015 and May 2018.

The AGD said it assessed the recruitment processes for a sample of 25 individuals recruited within that period, and found inconsistences in the selection process.

“For example, we found no evidence that Petrojam advertised the vacancy for 13 positions, including sensitive positions such as the general manager and manager, refinery and optimisation. This was in breach of Sections 4 and 5 of the Recruitment Policy, which requires job vacancies to be advertised internally and externally.”

It also noted that Petrojam did not provide a job description for the position of general manager, which should outline the requirements, including the levels of qualification, for the position.

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