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“Upset” supporters paying for government-hired US lobbying firm to counter PPP messages

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2020, 21:19 by Writer

Joseph Harmon.

Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Retired Lt. Col. Joseph Harmon on Thursday denied that taxpayers monies were used to pay a United States (US) lobbying firm to ease American pressure concerning electoral transparency, insteading saying the funds were amassed by overseas-based supporters.

“I would say to you that this is not funds that have been from the government. We have supporters around the world who are very incensed, who are upset that this kind of narrative continues to be perpetuated on a daily basis and have come to say ‘what can we do to help?’ and our supporters and friends abroad have come together, put together their hundred dollars, lil two thousand dollars and they are paying for this. No money is coming from the government treasury,” he said.

The Director-General is listed in documentation filed with US government regulators as the contact person for JJ&B, LLC to liaise and it clearly states the tasks are to be conducted on behalf of the Guyana government. The company says “we will provide services on a monthly basis, as requested, in return for an initial retainer of $40,000 for the month of April.” JJ&B says it will be contacting officials of the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government in order to seek resolution of disputes regarding Guyana’s recent presidential election, and in order to improve relations between Guyana and the US.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) on Wednesday night claimed that government violated the Procurement Act by spending taxpayers’ money to defend the coalition while claiming that there were insufficient funds to tackle the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Harmon reiterated that government was duty bound to dispel the PPP’s false narrative being peddled by its American lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs, in world capitals. “We have a right to ensure that the developments which have taken place in this country that they ought not to be derailed,” he added.

He said an APNU+AFC dossier, which was filed with US authorities, was prepared some time ago and circulated to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) prime ministers of Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines who had visited Guyana last year.

The US and the Organisation of American States continue to maintain that the March general election votes must be counted in a transparent and credible manner to ensure the will of the Guyanese people is reflected.

Both Harmon’s A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and the opposition PPP have claimed victory at the polls, but the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has since decided to conduct a recount of all the votes cast to make a final declaration.