KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness has stripped embattled Minister of Science Energy and Technology, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, of the Energy portfolio in the wake of reports of corruption and mismanagement at the state owned Petrojam oil refinery.
According to a statement late Monday following a Cabinet meeting, the energy portfolio will be transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister effective Wednesday.
The decision made after talks with Wheatley, who agreed with Holness that the transfer would be effected “in the interest of transparency”.
“It was agreed that Petrojam requires strategic review of both its management and operations, as well as its long-term commercial viability and role in Jamaica’s energy security,” the statement noted.
This latest development follows mounting public and political pressure as the country’s only oil refinery has been engulfed in controversy , including questionable spending and allegations of breaching the government’s procurement guidelines.
Last week, leader of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP),Dr Peter Phillips, called for Wheatley to be fired.
The country’s three major private sector groups also called for a forensic audit into the operations of Petrojam.
The oil refinery has been at the centre of corruption allegations which resulted in the resignation of three board members.
The Government has since appointed three new members, who are serving with three directors from the refinery’s Venezuelan partners — Petróleos de Venezuela, SA — which holds a 49 per cent stake. – CMC