Harmon to be parliamentary spokesman on oil

Last Updated on Friday, 9 March 2018, 22:54 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

The Guyana government on Friday said the establishment of a separate ministry to govern the lucrative oil and gas sector was not on the cards and that the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon would represent the sector in the National Assembly.

“Once it is in the Ministry of the Presidency, the Minister of State is the person who will answer in the National Assembly for any matters as it relates to the Ministry of the Presidency,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.

This appears to effectively remove the energy sector from Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman’s portfolio when the Energy Department is established by August 2018.

Ministers are responsible for introducing legislation in the House, responding to budgetary and non-budgetary questions in the House and contributing to parliamentary debates on their assigned portfolios which are usually gazetted.

With the petroleum sector expected to be removed from the Ministry of Natural Resources and placed in the hands of President David Granger through a Department of Energy in the Ministry of the Presidency, Harmon brushed off suggestions that hydrocarbons would be greatly politicised because it would be in the hands of several ministers. “We are constrained by the number of ministers that we can have in the government and so you can’t just create new ministries because you are also creating more bureaucracy in the system,” he said.

“It is under the Ministry of the Presidency and will receive direct guidance from His Excellency, the President,” the State Minister added,

Currently, the Minister of State; Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman; Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson; Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin and Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan form a so-called sub-committee on the sector who will be responsible for setting  up the structure, functions and capacity building. Presidential Advisor on Petroleum, Dr. Jan Mangal is also a member of that committee.

Trotman recently announced that Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally; Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry might be added to the existing ministerial group to form a task force to establish the Department of Energy.

The Natural Resources Minister has said he first approved the establishment of the Department of Energy in a proposal to the President. The Department will be responsible for  several areas including negotiating and entering into contracts, and issuing of licences for exploration and production.