Prime Minister Holness has taken several decisive steps to address the Auditor General’s Report into the operations of the country’s oil refinery Petrojam.
The Prime Minister has given key directives to Government Ministers to make changes to accountability practices arising from the Report.
The mandates will take immediate effect and will be codified by the Cabinet Secretary.
The announcement was made this morning (Monday, December 10) during a press briefing called by Prime Minister Holness at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
Prime Minister Holness tasked Cabinet to establish immediately in the Code of Conduct for Ministers two critical mandates.
They are as follows;
1. Ministers must have quarterly meetings with the Chairmen of Board which fall under the respective Ministries their Board Chairman with specific task of reviewing minutes and activities of the Board and to plan for the quarter to come.
2. Ministers must meet with their Board Chairmen and Board members bi-annually to review policy.
“The quarterly meeting is to enshrine the process of interrogation of administration and the bi-annual meeting is to ensure that the Boards are focused on policy. So, this is a mechanism for evaluation,” explained Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister noted that the mandates are not the standard procedure for Ministers however, moving forward they must function in that regard.
“It is going to become more work but then we have to become smarter in how we do our work; employ technology, restructure re-engineering of our business processes to ensure that we maximise our time,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness underscored that Jamaica’s system of governance can only grow stronger if a principle of restitution is established.
“If public agents cause funds to be used inappropriately, illegally, then those who benefitting and those who caused the Government to lose must make restitution,” said Prime Minister Holness.
He further acknowledged Former Energy Minister, Andrew Wheatley’s pronouncement to restore monies to the public purse.
The Prime Minister is expected to meet with the Auditor General later today to continue discussions on recommendations based on the findings of the Report.
Regarding the findings on oil losses, the Prime Minister has directed the Board of Petrojam to begin the process of identifying how the losses were incurred over five years.
“Based upon the meeting and what is in the report, there needs to be a forensic audit into these losses and so, I am going to direct the Board to once again…. start the process to identify how can we lose six hundred thousand barrels of oil over five years and to explain to the public what this is, because some people have said this is stolen oil; its missing oil and as I dig deeper there could be the possibility of pilferage and indeed we have heard anecdotal cases of pilferage of finished products, but it could be wastage, it could be technical losses. We need to know exactly what are the proportions (and) what causes it,” said Prime Minister Holness.