Sat | Feb 23, 2019

Sancia Bennett Templer moved again

Published:Wednesday | February 13, 2019 | 6:39 PM
Sancia Bennett Templer - File photo

Sancia Bennett Templer, the accounting officer in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), is to be transferred to the Ministry of Justice in a shake-up among some permanent secretaries.

The changes were announced in a statement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness this afternoon.

This is Bennett Templer's second transfer in two months, having been first appointed to the Ministry of Health in December 2016 and later transferred to OPM last year December.

The move comes after she faced tough questions from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about the severance package of former human resources manager at Petrojam Yolande Ramharrack.

Bennett Templer told the PAC last Tuesday that Ramharrack left with a gross severance package of $9.2 million.

However, it has been revealed in documents tabled on Tuesday by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that the package was in the region $13.3 million.

Eyebrows were raised in Parliament last Tuesday when Bennett Templer told members of the PAC that she could not divulge information on Ramharrack’s separation package because of a gag order in the form of a non-disclosure agreement that Petrojam signed with the former HR manager’s attorneys.

Government member on the PAC Everald Warmington did not take kindly to Bennett Templer’s assertion, charging that the Holness administration had nothing to hide.

However, the permanent secretary refused to budge, but later relented when it was suggested that the information be released in-camera.

Rearranging Permanent Secretaries 

Bennett Templer was transferred from the Ministry of Health late last year to the OPM as Permanent Secretary.

Audrey Sewell, who is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, has been asked to take charge at the OPM once again.

At the same time, the no-nonsense Carol Palmer will take up duties at the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology under the ministerial leadership of Fayval Williams.

Williams is being moved from the Ministry of Finance and Public Service where she was a minister without portfolio.

Executive changes 

Other changes were made to the Executive.

Minister of State Floyd Green is to move from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to the Ministry of Industry Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Minister of State Alando Terrelonge will be assigned to the Ministry of Education Youth and Information, moving from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport.

The changes take effect on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Full OPM Statement

Since taking over the Energy, and Science and Technology Portfolios in July 2018, significant policy, governance and administrative advances have been made.

Through the Energy Portfolio, government’s strategic policy goal of providing real assets to private citizens and entities through listing on the Jamaica Stock Market has begun to take shape with the imminent initial public offering of Wigton Wind Farms Limited and a policy decision is now being finalized to similarly list the government’s shares in JPS.

The Boards of all the agencies falling under the Portfolios have to be reconstituted where necessary and appropriately missioned. The Board of NESOL limited has been instructed to start the process of closing down the entity as a part of the agreed Public Sector Reform programme. Yesterday, I tabled in the House of Representatives, legislation to acquire the 49% share of Venezuela’s in Petrojam.

This is a major step to secure the viability and value of our national asset in the Petrojam. The Review Commission which I established to explore and advise the Government on the future options for Petrojam has begun its work and is on track to deliver its finding.  I have ordered a forensic audit into oil losses at the entity and I signed off on draft terms of reference to be circulated and commented on by stakeholders before finalisation.  The Board of Petrojam was completely reconstituted and charged to:

* ensure strict adherence to government policies and guidelines,
* return the entity to its full operating capacity and efficiency,
* restore staff morale,
* reduce losses,
* ensure the reliable supply of fuel to the Jamaican market, and most important, ensure that Petrojam does not become call on the public purse.

The Government has made several policy changes which will improve governance generally, including changes to, Corporate Social Responsibility and Donations Policy, the appointment of Boards, travel of Board Members, restrictions on the use of retainer contracts and restrictions on the use nondisclosure clauses in HR/Personnel matters.

While there is still much more work to be done to restore the public trust and confidence in Petrojam and the portfolio generally, I believe we have come a far way. I am therefore confident that with the changes set in motion, I can now refocus my attention and effort on other pressing areas of the government, particularly crime, ease of doing business, and completing the extensive infrastructure programme undertaken.

It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to announce, effective February 14, 2019, the following:

* Minister Fayval Williams will now assume full responsibility in the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology.

* Minister of State Floyd Green will be assigned to the Ministry of Industry Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

* Minister of State Alando Terrelonge will be assigned to the Ministry of Education Youth and Information.

* Permanent Secretary Carol Palmer will be assigned to the Ministry of Energy Science and Technology.

* Permanent Secretary Sancia Bennett Templer will be assigned to the Ministry of Justice.

* Permanent Secretary Audrey Sewell will take up an additional assignment at the Office of the Prime Minister.

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