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No Cabinet decision on stripping Harmon’s powers; APNU, AFC may discuss issue

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

Guyana’s ministerial cabinet on Tuesday (April 12, 2016) discussed the Alliance For Change’s desire for Minister of State, Joseph Harmon to be stripped of some of his responsibilities but no decision has been taken, according to credible sources.

“We heard from Mr. Harmon and it is just a matter now of assessing the facts,” the source said. The AFC wants, for instance, a senior or retired senior public servant to be appointed Cabinet Secretary.

Currently, Harmon is Cabinet Secretary, Secretary to the Defence Board and effectively Head of the Presidential Secretariat as well as Minister of State.

The AFC’s concerns, another source said, were not resolved but no time-frame has been set for the issue to be discussed again. “I can’t say. The issue is how we treat the information that was given.”

Demerara Waves Online News was told that the issue of Harmon’s multiple responsibilities could be discussed next between A Partnership for National Unity and the AFC because of the need to include the other members of the coalition such as the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). “It may be an issue that has to be discussed at the level of the AFC and APNU. I believe the better thing to do is to elevate our discussions at that level because there are more than parties in the coalition. Other parties have not raised these issues that we have raised so we have to talk with the coalition at a different level,”  the source said.

President David Granger has already said that he saw no need for Harmon to be stripped of responsibilities because no one had previously objected to the allocation of areas at a recent cabinet retreat.

The source sought to assure that the Harmon’s responsibilities and his recent controversial decisions to appoint prominent businessman, Brian “BK” Tiwari a ministerial advisor on Business Development and order the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to halt the seizure of two luxury vehicles belonging to the Chinese company, Baishan Lin were separate. The vehicles were subsequently seized by the GRA and President David Granger said that he has ordered that there be no intrusion in the work of other ministers.

However, the AFC said in a post-retreat statement on Sunday, April 10, 2016 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.”

Harmon’s decision with regards to the vehicles came  less than one week after he returned from a visit to China where he was seen in a photograph aboard a plane with top officials of Baishan Lin.

  • Emile_Mervin

    The coalition just does not grasp how tenuous its hold on power is. It is a coalition of several parties (some paper parties) with a mere one-seat parliamentary majority. It has done nothing to deal with Jagdeo and the PPP on corruption, thereby giving PPP supporters reason to believe all accusations of PPP corruption are unfounded.

    This may set the stage for a re-energized PPP base and, unless the coalition shapes up before 2020, it will have devise survival tactics or be shipped out in 2020.

    Harmon may retain his many hats and the confidence of Granger and others in the coalition, but as of this moment, Harmon is a spent political force. He has become a Jagdeo: a political liability. There is nothing much the coalition can do at this point to pacify growing public skepticism angst. The die is cast.

    • F_Skinner

      Your last paragraph. The sooner President Granger realizes this the better for the country. You have to lead from in front to get the respect of the people. And it’s the people and not party loyals who put you over the top.

    • ExPat123

      Harmon is Jagdeo?!?! Really??? Let that simmer a second. You’re either delusional or didn’t live under Jadego. Did you forget that you’re still paying his light bill and for the maids to service his mansion Sherlock.

      • Emile_Mervin

        Of course, you saw some trees and shouted ‘forest’! Becoming Jagdeo does not mean he has ALL the qualities; just that this is how Jagdeo started out: influence peddling…and we said nothing until it was too late. BTW, Shylock, the public always pays the bills for politicians, as was the case in Harmon’s defense of the cabinet minister’s pay raise: IT WILL DETER THEM FROM BEING CORRUPT! Yeah, right!!!

    • eddie

      you are wrong!!!!!! they put all there energy in the beginning trying to embarrassed the PPP with all the audit where as they should have focus on strengthen the collation because last I check this marriage anywhere in the world is always a work in progress even to the end because it very problematic to sooth the different ego where power is the main objective on everyone mind

  • Lancelot Brassington

    AFC might soon be facing a ‘mini’ version of this storm over Harmon. There have been sightings of a prominent hotelier and board chairman close to the AFC interacting closely with a former CEO very close to the PPP who was fired because of his incompetence, his tolerance of corruption and his high opinion of himself which caused him to think that he could ‘F’ the infrastructure minister and get away with it. Heaven forbid that this ‘has been’ is still influencing things in the company. Be careful AFC, your slip is showing.

  • ExPPP_Man

    It won’t be long before the AFC is totally sidelined. PNC is not even consulting them anymore, Harmon continues to function as Prime Minister on Governance (over ruling any that Moses have to contribute) and VP of Home Affairs (over riding Rumjattan). Before 2020, there will be a total separation and the PNC will “win the elections by 2/3 marority”. AFC is present day 60’s UF, destroyer of all democratic accomplishments.

  • george wiltshire

    Beloved we are trying to save Guyana. Hamonhas messed up again. Thee first time was the salaries. Granger did not take a firm stand. Now here is a bigger matter. I am surprised that somehow Granger with all his education cannot see problem which is getting out of hand. Harmon does not have the decency to resign. He is akin to the same pppc that we all criticised. So did he. Always suspected he lacked principal.