Lionel Myrie’s appointment as TPDCo boss canceled | New
Lionel Myrie’s appointment as Acting Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) was canceled amid a strong backlash.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the decision was taken today after consultation with the ministry’s permanent secretary, Jennifer Griffith, and TPDCo’s board of directors.
Instead, TPDCo’s general service manager, Georgeia Robinson, has been appointed as the interim head until the hiring of a new executive director is finalized this month.
In a statement, Bartlett said Myrie will continue to fulfill her role as director of product development and community tourism.
Critics, including the parliamentary opposition, had spoken out against Myrie’s appointment, arguing that a cloud still hangs over him due to his role in the state-owned Petrojam oil refinery scandal.
Myrie, then a director of Petroleum Corporation Jamaica (PCJ), the parent company of Petrojam, has come under heavy criticism for her role in the controversial multi-million dollar donations from the oil refinery.
Petrojam had acknowledged that an email Myrie sent to Petrojam’s chief executive, Floyd Grindley, “formed the basis” upon which the company had awarded a $ 10 million donation requested by the Homestead Citizens for Action Benevolent Society.
The donation was requested for the construction of two classroom blocks at Homestead Elementary School in St Catherine and the money went directly to the institution.
A performance audit of Petrojam, which was conducted by the Auditor General’s Department, found that Myrie had also forwarded, on behalf of a group of citizens identified as the Sydenham Citizens’ Association, an email to Grindley requesting a $ 9 million donation for a community project.
This donation is under investigation by the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.
In an appearance before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in May 2019, Myrie admitted that in both cases he was simply acting as a “messenger.”
Myrie insisted at the time that when he forwarded the emails to Grindley, he was not acting in his capacity as director of the PCJ or assistant to the former Energy Minister, the Dr Andrew Wheatley.
The opposition had argued that Myrie had failed to distinguish herself as a capable and appropriate manager of public funds.
He explained that in his role within the tourism agency, his goal is to create a product of diversity and quality through the establishment and deepening of key partnerships with universities, communities, government and the private sector.
He informed that Myrie first joined TPDCo as Destination Manager for the Negril Resort area.
Bartlett added that he has quantifiable local and international experience in the areas of operations management, policy development, corporate governance and destination management.
He further stated that Myrie’s expertise will prove essential in leading operations and leading the agency’s product development and community tourism team to actualize its mandate of preserving the cultural heritage product of Jamaica; creation of new diversified products and modification of existing tourism products.