Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson is rejecting the government's arguments that going to arbitration to settle issues surrounding the acquisition of Venezuela's shares in Petrojam would be too lengthy and costly.
In an interview for an upcoming episode of TVJ's All Angles, Mr. Patterson said that is not a valid reason for the government's decision to go the route of compulsory acquisition of Venezuela's 49 per cent stake in the refinery.
Mr. Patterson said he agrees that Venezuela's continued ownership of the shares does not make sense.
"The minority investment by Venezuela in the Petrojam refinery no longer is justified in that Venezuela no longer has the interest or the capacity to do that which was anticipated by the partnership agreement. So, for me, the argument is not whether the argument should continue, it is how the partnership should be discontinued," the former Prime Minister declared.
The Jamaican government has said there is a stalemate with Venezuela over the price of the shares.
However, Mr. Patterson argued that the agreement with the Venezuelan authorities outlines procedures for settling disputes which might arise.
He said it is wrong for the government to ignore these provisions with the excuse that arbitration is too lengthy or costly because it could "bring into question (Jamaica's) reputation in terms of legitimate dealings."
"This time it's with Venezuela. When next will the government decide that arbitration is too costly, and therefore, it will resort to some other form of compulsory acquisition?" Mr. Patterson questioned.
The Government has said it will table legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to begin the process to acquire the shares.
In the meantime, the former prime minister has questioned how the government proposes to continue its relationship with Venezuela while not recognising the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.
Last week Jamaica joined several other countries at the Organization of American States (OAS) in voting for a resolution not to recognise Mr. Maduro's presidency.
Mr. Patterson said it is very difficult to understand the logic of Jamaica voting in that manner but also attending Mr. Maduro's swearing in on the same day in Caracas.
"It's going to be very difficult to know if we do not recognise the Maduro government as legitimate, to whom will our embassy in Caracas respond. In the case of their presence here, what instructions do we regard as valid for a regime which we say has no constitutional basis?" he reasoned.
Mr. Patterson said he is disappointed CARICOM has not been able to arrive at a unified position on how to deal with the current social, economic and political crisis in the South American country.
He argued that CARICOM should be leading the charge at the OAS but instead appears to be yielding to the wishes of others.
"There is no doubt that for a very, very long time within this hemisphere, the OAS has been an organisation, an instrument of hegemonic control. It is that which must be resisted. It is that which compels the Caribbean as small nation states to try and take a position that ensures the maintenance of our sovereignty," he suggested.