Business

No nepotism here!

Petrojam board says rules are always followed in doing business

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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Following a meeting last week, the board of the local oil refinery, Petrojam, issued a statement in response to recent allegations of nepotism and victimisation of staff at the refinery, as well as major project overruns.

In the release the Petrojam board said:

“At all times the requisite approvals and review channels are utilised for every aspect of the company's business, including the award of contracts, the provision of donations, and the implementation of projects.

The allegations were made in the House of Representatives by the Opposition's spokesman on science and technology, Julian Robinson during the sectoral debate.

Robinson, in his presentation on May 22, called on the new Integrity Commission and the auditor general to urgently examine the operations of the State-owned oil refinery, adding that the viability of the entity is being threatened.

He claimed that there is widespread nepotism, as well as victimisation of staff, and that there are major project overruns taking place.

“It requires the intervention of the auditor general to go in with immediate effect to examine what is taking place at this entity,” Robinson added.

But, a week later, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley responded to the claims made by Robinson in a statement to the House on Tuesday, May 29, stating that there was no evidence to support the allegations.

Wheatley noted that Petrojam's policy requires that all donations above US$2,500 must be approved by the board of directors by resolution. He also noted that the board includes both Jamaican and Venezuelan directors representing the interests of both countries.

He said that the company sees its donations policy as “very serious business”, and that it is “governed by a system of checks and balances superintended by professionals and adherent to the guidelines set out in the policy procedures manual governing the activity”.

“The donations made by Petrojam under this board have followed the guidelines outlined in the donation policy document [of Petrojam],” Wheatley said.

“Therefore, it is unfortunate that the member would seek to devalue the good intent of Petrojam's corporate responsibility programme and the work of the entities that have benefited from that support,” the minister added.

Since then the board of Petrojam has met and issued the following release on June 1, 2018:

“The six-member board of directors of the Petrojam refinery, comprised of three Venezuelans and three Jamaicans, note with concern recent suggestions being made about the level of integrity and professionalism governing the affairs of the company

“As Jamaica's sole oil refinery, the company supplies a full range of domestic, transportation and industrial petroleum products to our valued customers. As a statutory body and governed under a Joint Venture Agreement, the company acts with responsibility and transparency, while exercising due diligence in its affairs.

“At all times the requisite approvals and review channels are utilised for every aspect of the company's business, including the award of contracts, the provision of donations and the implementation of projects.

“Donations are made to entities as part of our corporate social responsibility and in an effort to contribute to national development. We have always been a company frequently audited by our shareholders. Additionally, we are routinely audited by reputable firms and the auditor general to ensure that procedures are understood, respected and followed.

“Much has been made about staff compensation at Petrojam. The record will show that the requisite salary ranges as approved by the Ministry of Finance in determining the appropriate remuneration for the recruitment of talent, has been maintained. Petrojam continues to serve the energy needs of Jamaica towards economic growth and sustainable development.”

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