Red flags raised regarding PCJ operations

The Auditor General has raised several red flags regarding the operations of  Petrojam's parent company the Petroleum Corporation of  Jamaica (PCJ), including human resource management malpractices, unapproved allowances and benefits and an internship programme in which the PCJ forked out millions of  dollars.

From a sample of  27 officers, the Auditor General found that 11 of  the related posts were filled without being advertised and there was no evidence that the Petroleum Corporation interviewed or conducted any competency assessment for eight of  the employees.

It was also discovered that the PCJ did not adhere to its policy with the hiring of  a Human Resource Officer/HR Specialist and the Business Intelligence Support Officer. 

Prior to being employed by PCJ, the Human Resource Officer/HR Specialist who was a co-opted external member of  the HR Sub-Committee of  the Board appliedfor the position after the initial candidate declined the job offer. 

In another instance, a Business Intelligence Support Officer was engaged on July 3, 2017 with emoluments of  J$7 million  without the approval of  the Ministry of  Finance and the Public Service. 

The audit also revealed that as at September this year, the PCJ had 143 employees receiving an aggregate annual salary of  $390 million . 

While the Finance Ministry approved salaries and benefits for PCJ, there was no evidence that it approved the Performance Incentive and the Reimbursement of  Gym fees to employees. 

In addition, PCJ paid travelling allowances to 29 officers without the Ministry's approval.

This resulted in unapproved payments totaling $48.4 million between 2015 and this year.

On August 21, 2009, PCJ requested approval for the continuation of payment of motor vehicle upkeep and transportation allowances, along with the payment of  other allowances and benefits.

PCJ's request indicated that motor vehicle allowance is paid to managerial staff  and transportation allowance to those staff  that are required to travel by virtue of  their jobs. 

However, the MOFPS indicated in its response dated October 27, 2009 that it had no objection to the payment of  the travelling allowances, provided that the payments will be made to bonafide travelling officers and the appropriate managerial staff  and that the payments are in keeping with Government's guidelines. 

The  Auditor General observed where payments were made to officers that were not travelling officers that occupied the following positions: Administrative Assistant, Assistant Maintenance Technician, Senior Driver, Librarian, Senior Accounting Clerk. 

As a result, the Auditor General says the PCJ may have inappropriately paid travelling allowances totaling 38.5 million dollars over the 2015/2016 to 2017/2018 period. 

The Auditor General also highlighted what it said was a loss of  value on PCJ's Internship Programme.

 According to the Auditor General, the PCJ awarded a contract, valued at $119.6 million  to a local university under the Internship Programme.

The University was required to develop and administer the academic component of  the programme to 750 participants over a three-month period commencing May this year. 

However, only 562 participants were recruited which equates to a value of  $89.7 million  under the contract.  The PCJ paid $83.8 million and a  final invoice of  $35.9 million  was submitted by the University to the PCJ last month for payment. 

It was discovered that the Petroleum Corporation committed to pay the balance following verification and final report from the University to ensure the full closeout of  the Internship Programme. 

The Auditor General says if  PCJ honors the claim without recruiting the remaining 188 participants to the Internship Programme, it will not realise full value for money. 

The PCJ indicated that members of  parliament were contacted to submit names of  persons to participate in the programme, however, no evidence was provided to the Auditor General to detemine if  the recruitment and selection of  participants were conducted in a transparent and equitable manner. 


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