Edmond Campbell, Senior News Coordinator
Deputy leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Audley Shaw, is accusing the Government of using PetroCaribe funds illegally to shore up its election chances. Contending that Government has ignored two legal procedures by which these funds should be expended, Mr. Shaw charged that nearly $800 million was being used by the Transport and Works Ministry to carry out road repairs across sections of the country.
"The question we have to ask the Minister of Finance (is), what else are they doing with PetroCaribe money that the country doesn't know about, that Parliament doesn't know about. Is the Minister of Finance trying to use the PetroCaribe money to 'run wid it' once again, without the approval of Parliament," Shaw queried, while addressing journalists yesterday at a press conference to assess the party's just-concluded election campaign five-day road tour in several parishes.
Mr. Shaw argued that PetroCaribe funds can only be used legally by the Government if it is placed in the Consolidated Fund or if a special legal entity is set up to manage the funds.
According to the JLP deputy leader, the Government has indicated its intention to amend the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica Act to establish the PetroCaribe Fund, over which the Financial Secretary would preside. However, he said, this is yet to materialise.
The Government recently admitted that the US$41 million cost overrun in the controversial Sandals Whitehouse project was funded by proceeds from the Caracas oil agreement, which Jamaica had with Venezuela.
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies, has dismissed claims that the funds were used inappropriately.