Friday 6 December, 2019

Petrojam ex-GM and HR manager’s ‘handiworks’ uncovered by the AG

Floyd Grindley

Floyd Grindley

Investigations have revealed that former Manager for Human Resource Development and Administration (HRDA) at Petrojam, Yolande Ramharrack, presided over the employment of a brother of hers, who did not have the requisite qualification, at the oil refinery.

That is one of a litany of breaches that were uncovered by Auditor General, Pamela Monroe-Ellis, in a damning report on the activities at Petrojam, which was tabled in the House Representatives on Tuesday.

According to the report, neither Ramharrack nor the former General Manager, Floyd Grindley, were qualified for the positions that they held. Both had only first degrees, despite their respective positions requiring post-graduate qualification.

“We found that Petrojam’s recruitment and selection processes were not always consistent with good practices, its own employment and recruitment policies, and related circulars issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service,” the AG’s report said.

The report cited that Petrojam’s records indicated that it recruited 76 new employees between January 2015 and May 2018. Auditors assessed the recruitment processes from 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,” said the report. This was in breach of Sections 4 and 5 of the recruitment policy, which requires job vacancies to be advertised internally and externally.

According to the AG’s findings, 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.

“Notwithstanding, we expected Petrojam to require the incumbent to possess at least a post-graduate degree or equivalent professional certification. In addition, the position of Manager, Human Resource Development and Administration, based on the advertisement for the position, required a post-graduate degree. However, the General Manager and Manager, Human Resource both had a first degree in their respective field(s).

“Petrojam’s employment policy indicated that ‘the company will not employ any candidate who cannot meet the minimum educational requirements for the position for which he or she is considered,’” re report indicated.

Yolande Ramharrack

The auditor general also found that two individuals, one being a brother of the HR manager, were employed despite being rejected by the company’s formal interviewing panel. In the first instance, an individual was interviewed on January 18, 2018 for the position of process engineer on the VDU Project, and was rejected by a four-member interview panel on the basis of lack of industry, engineering and project experience. It was noted that three members of the panel were senior officers on the VDU Project.

Some 26 days later, on February 13, 2018, the same individual was re-interviewed for the same position by the human resource manager and the technical service manager, who were not part of the first interview panel. The individual was then recommended “for a more strategic role on the project, given intellect, expertise and strategic competencies”.

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

“The decision by manager, HRDA and (the) technical service manager to overturn the decision of the interview panel without justification, illustrates deficiencies in Petrojam’s recruitment process,” said the auditor general.

In the second instance, the manager, HRDA, also employed her own sibling in the position of Instrument and Electrical Technician, although the individual had been rejected by the interview panel on May 10, 2017, on the basis of lack of experience and qualification.

“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 manager, HRDA also breached Section 1 of the employment policy, which states that “the employment and promotion of an individual will be based upon that individual’s experience, qualifications, competency, and potential.”

The AG’s report also detailed how Ramharrack’s salary was increased from $10.58 million to $12.98 million within two months, and the probationary period cut from four to two months.

The report said Ramharrack was paid two months’ retroactive salary, with the increase and the waiver of the probationary period being signed off on by Grindley.

Both Grindley and Ramharrack have since either resigned or been separated from Petrojam.

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