Apr 05, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
It is not clear if the government has made a decision to just ignore the fact that Minister of State,
Joseph Harmon, has been accused of undermining the strength of one of the most important bodies in Guyana—Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). However, it is obvious that no Government Minister is ready to publicly address the issue.
The scandal surrounding the apparent controversial link between logging company BaiShanLin and Minister of State Joseph Harmon continues to cause outrage as it goes unaddressed.
Kaieteur News published reports that Harmon halted a seizure operation that was being carried out on BaiShanLin. The operation was being executed by GRA in collaboration with officials from the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).
The vehicles were being seized due to the fact that the Chinese company failed to pay the required duties within the legally stipulated timeframe.
But before the GRA and SOCU officials could carry out the seizures, they received a call from Harmon who instructed that the vehicles must not be removed, that the ranks should leave the company alone, and to walk away from the premises.
Several attempts have been made by this newspaper to contact Harmon on the matter, but all proved futile. The article was first published on Thursday and four days have elapsed and the Minister has not even issued a statement in an effort to clear the air.
Kaieteur News was reliably informed that no effort has yet been made to correct Harmon’s wrong by
allowing the GRA ranks to successfully complete the exercise that was halted.
To confirm this, Kaieteur News contacted Chairman of the GRA Board of Directors, Rawle Lucas, to find out if the vehicles have since been removed. Lucas told Kaieteur News that he is not aware of any development on the matter further to what has been reported in the press.
Kaieteur News also contacted the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, to find out about the progress made in an investigation he had promised to launch into the matter.
But he chose not to give a comment.
When contacted last Friday, Jordan had admitted that he is aware of the matter. Jordan however declined to give a detailed comment on the matter, except to say, “I am going to investigate the veracity of this allegation.”
When Kaieteur News contacted him yesterday, the Minister said, “No, no, no, I am in a meeting at the moment;” subsequent efforts to make contact with Jordan proved futile.
Anti-corruption advocates are outraged. David Hinds, Christopher Ram and Anand Goolsarran have all made strong comments on the matter.
They all expressed disappointment in Harmon and said Guyana cannot be made to suffer a repeat of what was had under the rule of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C)
Goolsarran said, “This runaway train must be halted in its track before it is too late,” as he noted the repercussions of political interference in GRA. Citizens have also been airing their disappointment in the letter pages of Kaieteur News.
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