Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2016, 22:43 by Denis Chabrol
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon Thursday night explained his appearance in a photograph with Chinese company officials aboard a private jet in China, saying that several Chinese companies that intend to invest significantly in Guyana assisted with transportation.
Harmon said his meeting with the Chinese companies’ representatives coincided with his visit to China on official government business in March, 2016. He has already said that himself and a senior official had gone to China to meet with a Chinese company that had had an outstanding sum of US$5 million for government’s 20 percent shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) company.
I visited the People’s Republic of China on official Government business in March 2016.
The Minister of State said the Ambassador of China to Guyana, who was in country at that time, made arrangements for him to meet officials of four companies, which had signalled their intention to make significant investments in Guyana. These Companies were located in Beijing, Shanghai, Hebei and Heilong Jiang Provinces.
“In this regard, because of the significant distances involved and the limited time available on that trip, the Ambassador made arrangements for these companies to provide transportation, both air and land, for me to travel to their respective Head Offices,” he said.
Harmon recalled that on the March 27, 2016, one such arrangement was made for him to visit Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, a Company situated in Heilong Jiang Province. The Long Jiang Forest Industries Group is a state-owned company that had acquired 55 percent of the shares in Bai Shan Lin and is intended to fully take over the company in 2016.
In apparent direct reference to the photograph of him with several Chinese persons aboard the plane, he said “two officials from the Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, along with two officials from Bai Shan Lin, accompanied me on the aircraft on the flight from Beijing to Heilong Jiang Province to attend the meeting.”
The Minister of State used the opportunity to announce in his statement that at that meeting, the Vice Director of the Company, Mr. Wong Dong Xu, in the presence of officials of Bai Shan Lin, assured that the Company’s officials would be be in Guyana by May 2016 to complete due diligence for the takeover, and to satisfy and expand on the obligations of Bai Shan Lin to Guyana.
“I used the opportunity to convey all of the concerns and expectations of the Government and people of Guyana with respect to foreign investment generally and those with respect to Bai Shan Lin in particular,” he added.
He said the Ministry of the Presidency made no official release on those matters at that time, “since a prerequisite to that release would have been a formal briefing of the President and Cabinet.”
The Minister of State said the publication of a lone photograph without seeking to investigate and report on its context was not the work of the Ministry of the Presidency. “I wish to make no comment on the motivations for its publication.”
Harmon has already reportedly said in the privately-owned Kaieteur News newspaper that someone was apparently out to destroy his political career.