Sun | Oct 20, 2019

Energy ministry to spend nearly $100m on staff cuts

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 12:10 AM
Fayval Williams, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology.
Fayval Williams, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology.

The Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, or MSET, has apportioned nearly $100 million for redundancy payments related to staff cuts at National Energy Solutions Limited, NESoL, and Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, PCJ, as part of a wider rationalisation programme.

The ministry is cleaning house following a series of scandals at renewable energy supplier NESoL and PCJ’s oil refinery subsidiary, Petrojam.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams, who was appointed some eight months ago, after the scandals, did not disclose the number of staff members to be made redundant.

“Some $97 million has been set aside for the payment of terminal benefits to staff,” said Williams at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The redundancy exercise at NESoL is expected by the end of October. The staff and trade unions have been advised, and the ministry is working closely with the main union, UCASE, to make the process as smooth as possible.

“Counselling has been arranged for the 57 staff who are affected, to start the week of October 12,” Williams said, adding that there is a business continuity strategy for NESoL beyond October.

Last year, NESoL, which provides energy solutions to individuals and entities embarking on renewable and conventional energy projects, was hit with a series of fraud allegations and resignations.

The ministry also plans to update its accounts from 2014 to the present, wind up the agency, and integrate its core functions in a new division to be created in the ministry.

The PCJ will similarly be wound up and its core functions brought into a new division under the ministry.

The transition committee of the PCJ will bring its accounts up to date, calculate staff benefits, and engage in union negotiations.

“A review of staffing at PCJ shows an establishment of just over 140 posts. Twenty-one would be considered as technical, relating to the core functions of PCJ. A structure of the division will be developed to allow for continuation of critical functions,” the minister said.

The underutilised assets of the company will be disposed of in keeping with Government guidelines, she said.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com