Apr 09, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The coalition of A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is maintaining a
deafening silence on allegations of corruption. Observers are deeming this an ominous sign.
The government has not held any post-Cabinet press conferences for the last three weeks. Therefore the nation is missing out on being informed on matters that have gained the attention of Cabinet as well as Cabinet decisions on those matters.
Also, post-Cabinet press briefings would have presented the media with an opportunity to question the government officials on matters of public interest. These would include issues involving Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
Attorney General, Basil Williams has distanced himself from the actions of his colleague, Harmon. He told Kaieteur News, “I do not know about it and I do not want to know.”
On Thursday, Williams hosted a press conference at his Carmichael Street Office about legal issues surrounding the recently concluded Local Government Elections.
When Kaieteur News questioned him he said, “We did not call any meeting to take off-statement questions.” Eventually, he gave in and allowed a few questions.
Asked about the measures Government is taking to address the Harmon issue in a manner that will deter other Ministers from going down the road Harmon went, Williams said, “I cannot answer that. I have absolutely no idea about it.”
Further questioned, Williams said, “I really do not know anything about it. Is the Attorney General supposed to have an idea of what every Minister does? I am to watchman the Ministers? The matter did not come to Cabinet.”
He told Kaieteur News that the questions were being directed at the wrong Minister.
“I think you are directing your questions to the wrong person and I will not address any issue I have no knowledge of.”
Questioned about how he can maintain such ignorance on the issue when it was widely reported on in the press, Williams said, “What press reports? Tell me about a truthful press report that I need to address?
The scandal surrounding the apparent controversial link between logging company BaiShanLin and Minister of State Joseph Harmon is also still to be addressed.
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 over a week ago and the Minister has not even issued a statement in an effort to clear the air.
Eventually the vehicles were seized. But the government is still to say how it intends to address Harmon’s actions which some are describing as rogue behaviour.
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan is still to update the media of an investigation he had promised to launch into the matter.
Jordan had said, “I am going to investigate the veracity of this allegation.” But efforts to contact him subsequently 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.
Harmon is yet to fully justify his actions in appointing Brain Tiwari as Ministerial Advisor on Business.
Kaieteur News understands that Harmon made this move without securing the blessings of President David Granger. In fact, the President did not even know that Tiwari was working for his government in that capacity. As soon as he found out, President Granger rescinded the appointment.
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