Apr 02, 2016 News
The Ministry of the Presidency has come out explaining the recent visit of Minister of State, Joseph Harmon to China.
The media had anticipated a press conference hosted by Harmon, given his comments at the Marriott on Thursday. But instead of a promised press conference, it was the Ministry that issued a statement that spoke about the trip.
He had told reporters Thursday that he was preparing to hold a press conference and would answer all questions.
He refused then to be drawn into answering any questions, saying that he does not want to give two bites of the cherry.
According to the Ministry yesterday, Harmon and In-House Legal Counsel at National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL), Natalia Seepersaud, returned from an official trip to the People’s Republic of China on Thursday.
The purpose of the visit was to engage in discussions with regard to the payment of the US$5M balance owed for the purchase of 20 percent of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) shares by Chinese company, Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group.
The shares were controversially sold by NICIL in 2012.
According to the Ministry, this deal was entered into by the previous administration but only US$25M of the agreed US$30M was paid.
The trip to China was to discuss this issue and see if Guyana can collect the balance, President David Granger said Thursday.
The trip came under scrutiny after it became known that Minister Harmon was accompanied by businessman/contractor, Brian Tiwarie and Larry London, Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.
The statement from the Ministry of the Presidency made no mention on Tiwarie being on the trip.
“Minister Harmon reported on his return that the investigations and enquiries that were conducted by the Guyanese delegation were highly successful. The team’s report will be submitted to the Board of Directors of NICIL for deliberations, after which, a full statement on this matter will be issued.”
The statement said that “separately, but during the same period”, a team from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) comprising Head Project Coordinator, Fitzroy Corlette and Supervisor, David Hermonstine, along with the representative of the Chinese companies in Guyana, Clinton Williams, visited China to participate in negotiations with NUTECH, a Chinese security scanning equipment supplier, for the acquisition of containers and baggage scanners.
“NUTECH is recognised as one of the world’s top providers of security scanning equipment. The company produces scanners that are used to effectively prevent the trafficking of contraband such as explosives, narcotics and radioactive substances.”
The Ministry said that the acquisition of security scanners by the GRA is aimed at strengthening air, land and sea port security and to help in the fight against the trafficking of illegal drugs.
“The GRA team and NUTECH both expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the negotiations and the Guyana Revenue Authority is expected to issue a separate statement on this matter shortly.”
There were reports that Minister Harmon’s trip was to discuss a purchase of a plane for Government.
With regard to Tiwarie, he came under fire this week after Kaieteur News ran a story on his appointment on January 19th, 2016 as Ministerial Advisor on Business Development.
The appointment was made by Minister Harmon.
On Tuesday, hours after the story broke, President David Granger rescinded the appointment.
He later explained that the appointment was not Government sanctioned.
He said that there is a Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, and he had not requested any help, or advisors.
Tiwarie’s appointment and trip to China was seen as a slap to the face by supporters of the Coalition Government who took to social media to vent their anger.
Tiwarie, a contractor and businessman who has holdings in quarrying, aviation, real estate and other ventures, was reportedly close to the previous administration, receiving several multi-million dollar contracts.
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