Jamaica government denies taking decision to sell shares in Petrojam

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Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday February 26, 2015, CMC – The Jamaica government Monday said no decision has been taken with respect to the divestment of its shares in the state-owned oil refiners, Petrojam.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell said that if and when an offer is received, the process would be subject to the oversight of the Contractor General and the Government’s Contracts Committee consistent with the divestment of public assets.

In addition, Paulwell said that he is willing to facilitate requisite consultations on the company’s future with the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), other interest groups and individuals in the interest of transparency.

Paulwell said with respect to concerns that the pricing policy of Petrojam has been designed to influence the value of the state asset, the guiding principle of the state refinery has been longstanding and that the government would continue to ensure that the policy accords with international best practices, the viability of the company and the best interest of the Jamaican consumer.

Last week, the PSOJ said it was concerned at the effective monitoring of energy were the Government to give up majority control of the Petrojam oil refinery.

The PSOJ hinted that the company’s pricing structure may be deliberately couched to attract investors.

Media reports here last week noted that a buyer for Venezuela‘s stake in Petrojam was likely a month away and that Jamaica was also willing to sell a portion of its holdings to the new investor.

PSOJ called for more transparency on the proposed sale, saying “such an important entity to the Jamaican economy could place the entity in third-party hands without appropriate debate and consultation with other stakeholders and the Jamaican public generally, bearing in mind the impact Petrojam has on the economy and the cost of petroleum inputs.”

Government has a 51 per cent control of Petrojam with the other 49 per cent shares owned by Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

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