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Petrojam board, Andrew Wheatley blamed for mismanagement at the oil refinery - RJRGLEANER/Don Anderson poll

Pollster Don Anderson
 
Jamaicans are placing most of the blame for corruption and mismanagement at Petrojam on the state-owned refinery's board and former energy minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley, according to the findings of the latest RJRGLEANER Group commissioned poll.
 
One thousand people islandwide participated in the survey conducted from February 15 to March 3.
 
Petrojam has been at the centre of a massive scandal since the middle of last year.
 
It has led to several resignations, including Dr. Wheatley, the former board, general manager Floyd Grindley and human resource manager Yolande Ramharrack.
 
However, the RJRGLEANER poll sought to find out who or what Jamaicans felt was ultimately responsible for the problems outlined in a damning Auditor General report on the refinery.
 
Pollster Don Anderson said most people pointed fingers at the former board. 
 
"...Twenty-seven per cent of the people we interviewed said the entire board was responsible, 22 per cent said Minister Wheatley himself should be responsible, 12 per cent blamed it on general corruption within the society, 10 per cent blamed it on Prime Minister Andrew Holness, eight per cent on the former general manager, Grindley (and) eight per cent on the previous PNP administration," he revealed.  
 
Other respondents either did not know, said everyone involved should be blamed, blamed inefficient administration, or said both political administrations were responsible.
 
The Auditor General's report uncovered bad management practices which have cost Petrojam hundreds of millions of dollars.
 
It confirmed that millions were spent on lavish parties and unapproved sponsorships while glaring human resource breaches occurred which caused Petrojam to end up in court as sacked employees challenged their dismissal.
 
The audit also found that billions of dollars of oil were unaccounted for.
 
In the meantime, most Jamaicans say former energy minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley should have resigned earlier than he did.
 
"Fifty-three per cent of all the persons that we interviewed are convinced that Minister Wheatley should have resigned before, 21 per cent said 'no', and the rest of them were those who were either not sure or weren't really aware of the issue to the extent that they felt comfortable to comment," Mr. Anderson reported. 
 
Dr. Wheatley resigned in July last year as calls mounted for him to go in the wake of several allegations of corruption and mismanagement at Petrojam and National Energy Solutions Limited (NESol).
 
Mr. Anderson said respondents of varying political backgrounds said he stayed in the post too long. Giving a breakdown, he said 49 per cent of JLP sympathisers agreed that Dr. Wheatley should have resigned earlier while 67 per cent of those who said they were going to vote for the PNP felt the same.
 
According to Mr. Anderson, 46 per cent of respondents said he should not be appointed to parliamentary committees while 26 per cent said they did not have a problem with him being appointed. 
 
A further breakdown found that more JLP supporters (29 per cent) than PNP sympathisers (18 per cent) felt that there was nothing wrong with him being appointed to a parliamentary committee.
 
Dr. Wheatley resigned as science and technology minister a few weeks after being relieved of the energy portfolio.
 
No privatisation 
 
Meanwhile, as uncertainty continues regarding the future of Petrojam, the latest RJRGLEANER poll has found that 47 per cent of  the population is opposed to privatisation of the entity.
 
"Less than one in every three, 30 per cent of those persons we interviewed said 'yes' we believe that Petrojam should be privatised. And again, the numbers across the party lines were rather low based on this 30 per cent. Of those who supported privatisation, 22 per cent were amongst persons who said they were going to vote for the Jamaica Labour Party and 34 per cent amongst those who said they were gonna vote for the People's National Party," said the pollster.  
 
Twenty-three per cent of respondents were either unsure or not aware of the issue.
 
Mr. Anderson said 45 per cent of respondents supported the government's decision to buy back Venezuela's 49 per cent stake in Petrojam, while 25 per cent were opposed. Roughly 30 per cent of the respondents did not have an opinion, were not sure or did not know enough about the situation. 
 
But almost a third of the population does not agree with the Government's decision not to recognise the Nicolas Maduro administration in Venezuela. Despite this, an even larger number have no opinion on the matter or are unaware.
 
"What we found was that 25 per cent of persons agreed with the decision not to support it, 31 per cent disagreed with the decision, and the rest of them, which means that over 40 per cent didn't really have an opinion on this issue," Mr. Anderson revealed. 
 
In January Jamaica voted not to recognise the Maduro Administration during a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of  American States.
 
The resolution urged all Member States to adopt diplomatic, political, economic and financial measures that they consider appropriate, to contribute to the prompt restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
 


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