Friday 23 August, 2019

Opposition not in support of divesting Petrojam's terminal operations

Phillip Paulwell

Phillip Paulwell

The parliamentary Opposition is not in support of a recommendation from the Christopher Zacca-led Petrojam Review Committee (PRC), for the terminal of the state-owned oil refinery Petrojam to be privatised, Shadow Minister on Energy, Phillip Paulwell has signalled.

However, Paulwell has hinted that the Opposition has no difficulty with the recommendation, which is contained in the report of the PRC, that the refinery side of Petrojam’s operations be divested.

Paulwell, who was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said he would give details as to the Opposition’s position when he addresses the recently revamped Energy Council.

“I am hoping, at the first meeting of the Energy Council, I will have some audience because I would like to comment on just two aspects of the report that we have received so far, in a fulsome way – the recommendation for divestment to the private sector in relation to the refinery operations...I wouldn’t have a difficulty with that,” he said.

“The difficulty I have is with divestment as a terminal, I think it is a strategic asset and it should not be divested to the private sector."

The Opposition spokesman had asked Energy Minister, Fayval Williams to consider having the parliament’s Economy and Production Committee review the Zacca report and she has agreed.

However, the minister issued a warning.

“We only want to caution that the debate should not be viewed as unending because we believe that the people of Jamaica are impatient of talking and impatient of debate.

“And so while we will allow it, while we have no objection, we would like the member (Paulwell) to bear that in mind as this process commences,” Williams said.

In recommending the divestment of the problem-plagued Petrojam, the PRC said that were there to be no takers, which it did not envisage, the refinery should be shuttered and thereafter run as a terminal-only operation.

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