The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Sunday ended a leadership retreat, calling for a break-up of the responsibilities of the Minster of State, Joseph Harmon in the wake of the appointment of Brian “BK” Tiwari as a ministerial advisor.
The party which, commands an agreed 40 percent representation in Cabinet and is responsible for several key ministries, reasoned that Tiwari’s now rescinded appointment was as result of the concentration of several functions in Harmon.
“The Alliance for Change is of the opinion that the current difficulties which the government has encountered in the continuing revelations arising out of the appointment of the Advisor on Business Development and the issues surrounding this, have their roots in the concentration of the powers of the office of the Cabinet Secretary, the Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency and the effective Head of Presidential Secretariat in a single person.
The responsibilities of each of the above portfolios are substantial and of critical importance to the smooth operations of the Government and would benefit from separate appointments,” the party said in a strongly worded statement.
The AFC said it has mandated it leadership in Cabinet to “have these issues raised and addressed as a matter of national importance.” That party’s leadership in Cabinet includes Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson and Minister of Telecommunications and Tourism, Catherine Hughes.
Analysts and observers have long labeled Harmon as Guyana’s ‘Deputy President’ compared to Nagamoootoo’s relatively light portfolio as Prime Minister. The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) was recently taken away from him and handed to Hughes in her capacity as Telecoms Minister. In addition the State Media, Nagamootoo is responsible for Governance and Constitutional Reform.
The party assured that it was committed to the Coalition Government but said “the principles of good governance, transparency and equal opportunity are fundamental to the success of the Coalition.” The party added it was committed to responsible and transparent governance and looked forward to the conclusion of the Code of Conduct for government officials and its application.”
The AFC’s position came hours after influential People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) member, Amna Ally as well as Harmon thumbed their noses at his critics. He basically said he would be not be responding to media reports because the President has already spoken on the matter, a clear reference to the Guyanese leader’s rescinding of the January 29, 2016 appointment of Tiwari.
Ally said Harmon is not corrupt and the President still has confidence in the Minister of State or he would have been already sent packing.
Harmon has already come under fire for calling off the seizure of two luxury vehicles owned by the Chinese forest company, Baishan Lin, by the Guyana Revenue Authority allegedly for outstanding duties, less than one week after he returned from China where he and top officials of that company were seen together in a Kaieteur News newspaper photograph aboard an aircraft.
The President has since stated that he has instructed that there should be no intrusion in the work of other ministers.