In the News

In the News



Nothing improper about NetServ, says Paulwell

Observer Reporter
Wednesday, November 14, 2001

PAULWELL... investors don't have to come to Jamaica TECHNOLOGY minister, Philip Paulwell, told Parliament yesterday that "due diligence" research into the background of NetServ Communications (Jamaica) Limited had revealed nothing improper about the company or its principals and chided the Opposition for trying to smear the firm.

Paulwell also said that there was no conflict of interest in Wayne Blake, a former officer at the National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ), becoming the managing director of NetServ.

"A name was called of a manager of the company who used to be at NIBJ. We investigated that and we found that there was nothing in the way the manager operated at NIBJ and now that he is working with NetServ, the NIBJ board has had no difficulties with that transition," Paulwell said.

In response, Opposition spokesman on finance, Audley Shaw, who had tabled questions in the House about NetServ and then issued a news release on the matter, said: "There was no malice intended. (But) if you have an officer at the NIBJ that is disbursing billions of dollars and the officer is involved in dealing with the due diligence of a company and a few months later after disbursement is made that individual turns up as a manager of that company, there is a clear potential for conflict of interest."

But the technology minister cautioned that there was a need to "be careful how we treat investors" because "they don't have to come to Jamaica".

"They have choices. We have to ensure that we facilitate, encourage and nurture them," said Paulwell, who also revealed that Shaw and Opposition senator, James Robertson, were among Jamaica Labour Party officials who welcomed NetServ to Jamaica.

It also emerged in Parliament yesterday that it was JLP officials who had recommended NetServ to the government, but Shaw read to the House a letter dated October 13, 2000 from Senator Robertson, alerting Paulwell to negative allegations about one of the principal investors in NetServ, Paul Pereira.

Paulwell, in response, acknowledged the letter and said he was willing to probe any allegations about NetServ provided by the Opposition.
Paulwell, noting that NetServ was behind in its projection for job creation, disclosed that the Information Technology (IT) firm had recently received an equity injection of US$6 million from foreign investors, thus paving the way for government to pay the company $3 million to complete the full loan of $180 million.

Paulwell disclosed that NIBJ approved loan commitments totalling $1.022 billion for 10 projects under the INTECH fund, with $633.4 million disbursed to six companies. Disbursement to the remaining four companies is awaiting "satisfaction of preconditions by the project promoters", said the technology minister.

He said in instances where loan funds were disbursed, the equipment acted as security, noting that NetServ had state-of-the-art equipment supplied by NEC, a major hardware supplier from abroad.