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Environment separated from Natural Resources Ministry to remove conflict

Government is moving to remove any potential conflict between the extractive industries sector and the management of the environment by stripping the environment portfolio from the Ministry of Natural Resources and putting it under the Ministry of the Presidency.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said there would now be a Department of the Environment of the Ministry of the Presidency. “The extractive sector and the  sector that is responsible for supervising or monitoring the extractive sector together- you put them together is in the wrong place. We believe it is not a right fit,” he said.

He noted that already the Office of Climate Change and several other environment related areas are already under the management of the Ministry of the Presidency.

“It is the President’s intention to ensure that all of these entities are in the same place and so if you are responsible for extraction then the entity that is responsible for supervising you must be able to do so without having to report to the same minister that is responsible for the same people who are doing the extraction,” he said.

Up until this decision, he noted that for instance when top officials of the Norwegian government meet with government representatives on the multi-million dollar forest protection compensation programme, they usually do so with himself and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.

For Trotman’s part, he told a hearing of the bipartisan parliamentary committee on Natural Resources later Wednesday that after a series of consultations among himself, Harmon and President David Granger environmental management would soon be placed under the Ministry of the Presidency because of the increasing emphasis on oil, gold bauxite and forestry. “I can tell you that out of 24 in a day, oil and gas is taking up about 18 so it requires intense attention and so a Department of the Environment is being put together in the Ministry of the Presidency.”

The Minister of Natural Resources explained that the Environmental Protection Agency, Wildlife Management and the Protected Areas Commission would come under the Department of the Environment.