Montague Objects to GOJ Sale of Petcom, at this time.
The Jamaica Labour Party Shadow Minister for Mining and Energy, Senator Robert Montague says he notes recent reported comments by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), pushing for the sale of PETCOM, the government’s petroleum marketing company, and is suggesting that the divestment process be stopped at this time.
Asserting that the sale is not in the national interest at this time, he says, “While the JLP endorses divestment of government assets and firmly believes in private ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, we believe that time is not right for the sale of PETCOM. With the two major distributors of cooking gas controlling 80% of the market, PETCOM acts as a balancing force; it is the inclusion of more players that are needed, so as to reduce prices”.
The spokesman notes, “The ordinary Jamaican is yet to fully benefit from the fall in worldwide oil prices, either at the pump or in the kitchen, hence, reducing the players in the market place, will lead to further difficulties for the cooking and commuting public”. He adds, “While there are some small Jamaican owned marketing companies, they are not mature enough, or sufficiently capitalizes to purchase this asset, or to be major players in the petrol trade”.
Mr. Montague explains that PETCOM brings balance and equilibrium in the marketplace and is profitable. He says, “Without PETCOM the small reductions in prices would be nonexistent; PETCOM helps the Jamaican consumers to benefit from the fall in world prices”. He went on to note that “PETCOM, is not a drain on the National budget and as soon as more players are in the market and other conditions are favourable, we would support the sale, but not now”.
Mr. Montague therefore suggested instead, that the government, in the national interest, issue licenses to potential investors to start their own marketing companies, especially on the liquid petroleum gas side of the market, stating that “The increased competition will lead to lower prices for the already over burned motorist and householder”. He concludes, “The Jamaica Labour Party, and the Jamaican people DO NOT support the sale at this time and ask that PETCOM be removed from the divestment list in the national interest and the government move to invest some of the profits from PETCOM into re-tooling; issuing new licenses to new players for cooking gas distribution is the way to go at this time”.