Thirty-eight million dollars has been allocated by the Jamaican government to fund a forensic audit of oil losses at State refinery Petrojam.
The disclosure was made by the Finance Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke during the debate on the First 2019/20 Supplementary Estimates in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
A damning report by the country’s Auditor General last year revealed that Petrojam was unable to account for 600,000 barrels of oil valued at some J$5.2 billion over a five-year period.
At the time, Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the refinery’s board to begin the process of an audit and to follow up on recovering funds that the report said was misused.
“Some people have said that it is stolen 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; it could be technical losses. We need to know exactly what caused it,” Holness said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke indicates the announced funding was a demonstration that the Government is “serious”.
“We believe that some of the problems that are of [the] current era are problems that are long-standing in nature, and the Government is using resources to ensure that we can get to the bottom of these problems,” Clarke said.
The embattled entity made headlines for the better part of the past year as it came under heavy scrutiny for the unexplained oil losses, possible sponsorship policy breaches and employment of then Human Resource manager Yolande Ramharrack who lacked the necessary qualifications for the job.
The First Supplementary Estimates for the 2019/20 fiscal year was approved in the Lower House and will see the Government now spending $853.39 billion.
This represents a $50.15-billion increase over the Budget approved in March this year.