Gov't, Opposition clash over holding of PAC meeting on Petrojam report

Leader of Government Business Karl Samuda and Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell
There was uproar in the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon as Government and Opposition members clashed over the holding of a meeting of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday to discuss the Auditor General's report on Petrojam.
There was intense debate whether Leader of Government Business Karl Samuda acted improperly in instructing the clerk and Hansard writers to withdraw from the PAC meeting.
The meeting was adjourned after PAC Chairman Mark Golding was presented with a memo by the clerk, indicating that Mr. Samuda instructed her to withdraw the services of government workers.
Mr. Samuda said the PAC meeting was illegally convened as more members of the committee voted against holding the meeting on Tuesday.  
However, Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell had a different account of the decision to convene the PAC meeting Tuesday.
He noted that Mr. Samuda had suggested the meeting be held on December 18. However, he said he told Mr. Samuda that the aim of Tuesday's meeting would be preliminary and procedural.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness later suggested that the matter be put to a Parliamentary Committee to determine what caused the confusion over the PAC meeting.
But before Tuesday morning's Public Accounts Committee meeting had been adjourned, Ashyln Malcolm, the Internal Auditor at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), was asked by committtee members why issues identified by the Auditor General were not flagged earlier by internal auditors.
The PCJ is the parent company of Petrojam.
Ms Malcolm responded that her office was stymied in its efforts.
She reported that reviews were conducted.
During one of the reviews, she said she noticed that Petrojam had an outstanding audit, however, despite it being reported to the PCJ Board, nothing was done.
Ms Malcolm added that recommedations were made, but people left the PCJ and the recommendations were not followed through.
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis and other representatives of  PCJ were present at the meeting.

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