Last Updated on Sunday, 10 April 2016, 17:21 by Denis Chabrol
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon still enjoys the confidence of President David Granger despite swirling media reports that that minister appears very close with at least two companies that the coalition had heaped sharp criticism on while in opposition.
Minister of Social Cohesion Amna Ally told the Post Local Government Election meeting at West Demerara that President David Granger has every confidence in the Minister of State. She has reassured that “had the Minister of State done wrong, he would have been gone,” according to Harmon’s spokeswoman, Malika Ramsey.
Ally is widely regarded as a very influential and highly knowledgeable long-serving executive member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the largest party in the governing coalition to which Granger and Harmon also belong.
Ally came out swinging in favour of her colleague minister at an APNU+AFC-organised meeting with Region Three Councillors who were elected at last month’s Local Government Elections.” “Joseph Harmon is not corrupt,” she was quoted as saying.
Greeting Harmon on his arrival were several supporters, including councillors, with placards that defended his integrity.
Ally’s positions were made known the same day that the privately-owned Kaieteur News newspaper published a picture of Harmon, Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Larry London and top officials of Baishan Lin in an aircraft during a recent visit to China. Recently reports surfaced that Harmon had allegedly intervened in preventing the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) from seizing two of Baishan Lin’s vehicles for alleged non-payment of duties. Granger has since publicly stated that steps have been taken to ensure that there are “no intrusions” in other ministers’ portfolios.
The Minister of Social Cohesion told the Post Local Government Election meeting at West Demerara that Harmon must be credited for the many projects that he has undertaken to better the lives of citizens in Region 3 and countrywide. She said Harmon’s key priority is Guyana’s development.
Harmon, for his part, said he was not concerned that recent reports in the media would affect the way he performs his ministerial duties. He reportedly said that it is the people who elected him and the Coalition government who would decide whether the government was performing”…not one or two newspaper columnist or one or two persons who write newspaper articles.”
The Minister of State appeared to send a clear signal that he would not be responding to questions from the media on his apparent cozy relationship with Brian “BK” Tiwari, owner of BK International, and the Chinese company, Baishan Lin. In apparent reference to President Granger’s revocation of Tiwari’s appointment as a Ministerial Advisor on Business Development, Harmon reportedly said the President has spoken on the matter definitively, and he respects the president’s judgement therefore he (the Minister of State)need not say more.
Harmon has so far not kept two promises to brief the media.
Tiwari’s appointment was made on January 29, 2016 but only came to light last month.
Prior to APNU+AFC’s victory at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, then Opposition Leader Granger and several other top coalition representatives had been flown across Guyana aboard BK International’s aircraft. Shortly after assuming office, BK International assisted in a massive clean-up of Georgetown, the rehabilitation of the Independence Arch on Brickdam and the development of D’urban Park aback the 1763 “Cuffy” Slave Rebellion Monument.
Prior to the general elections, APNU+AFC had criticised that Chinese company for environmental degradation, receiving preferential treatment by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration and the export of logs. BK International has been cited for repeatedly receiving contracts, despite concerns about the quality of some works. Unflattering observations have been also made about that company in a forensic audit report.