Luncheon suggests Minister Harmon’s “public service” appointments violate constitution

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 October 2017, 13:34 by Denis Chabrol

Former Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon and current Cabinet Secretary, Minister of State Joseph Harmon.

People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) executive member, Dr. Roger Luncheon on Tuesday questioned the constitutionality of Minister of State, Joseph Harmon being the holder of two public offices- Cabinet Secretary and Secretary to the Defence Board.

“In light of the disclosure by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, that he is the Secretary to the Cabinet, while at the same time holding office as a Minister of State, a member of Cabinet and a Member of Parliament, the President may be called upon to explain this apparent breach of the Constitution,” Luncheon said in a letter to the media.

The former Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary noted that Harmon was sworn in on June 1, 2015 as Secretary to the Defence  Board by President David Granger, an appointment that was subsequently gazetted on June 6, 2015.

“I raise these two concerns because during my tenure as both the Secretary to the Cabinet and Secretary to the Defense Board, between 1992 and 2013, I, at no time, had reason to believe that as a Minister and Member of Parliament, I could still act in these two posts,” said Luncheon, a long-time politician in the PPP.

Back in June 2016, when the Minister of State was questioned about whether it was constitutional for him to be  Cabinet Secretary in light of the fact that Article 117 of Guyana’s Constitution states that there shall be a Secretary to the Cabinet “whose office shall be a public office”, he had dodged addressing the question frontally.

He had responded by querying, “Hhave you seen anything in the Constitution which prohibits a minister from being that person (Cabinet Secretary)?”  Told that the Constitution states that the Secretary to the Cabinet should be a public officer and quizzed on whether a politician could be a public servant, the Minister of State said “I don’t think I want to enter into debate now..I answered the question already and I think that’s the final thoughts on the matter.”