Apr 15, 2016 News
Minister of State Joseph Harmon has provided an explanation to Cabinet for the photograph which was
published in the Kaieteur News Edition of April 10, in which he is surrounded by Executive Members of Chinese Logging Company, BaiShanLin.
It was on Wednesday that Kaieteur News asked President David Granger about the details of Harmon’s explanation.
The Head of State said, “(Harmon) has explained it to the Cabinet… The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China was in China at that time and he (Harmon) had to go to about three or four different cities.”
“The Ambassador arranged the Executive transport because of the distance between the cities and the amount of time he (Harmon) had at his disposal so it was arranged by the Chinese Government to enable him to travel to different cities so that he can conduct the business he was there to conduct.”
Kaieteur News then published a story on Thursday which was headlined, “Private jet trip was paid for by Chinese Govt. –President Granger.”
The Ministry of the Presidency via a missive emphasised that Granger’s actual words were “arranged by” and not that the trip was “paid for” by the Chinese Government.
Kaieteur News has since acknowledged that it misquoted President Granger.
Yesterday, the Ministry of the Presidency issued a statement purportedly from the desk of Minister Harmon, explaining the use of the private jet.
The correspondence was captioned “Statement by Minister of State, Hon. Joseph Harmon on mode of travel while in China”
The statement read inter alia:
“I visited the People’s Republic of China on official Government business in March 2016. The Ambassador of China to Guyana, who was in the country at that time, made arrangements for me to meet officials of four companies which had signalled their intention to make significant investments in Guyana.
These Companies were located in Beijing, Shanghai, Hebei and Heilong Jiang Provinces.
In this regard, because of the significant distances involved and the limited time available on that trip, the Ambassador made arrangements for these companies to provide transportation, both air and land, for me to travel to their respective Head Offices.
On March 27, 2016, one such arrangement was made for me to visit Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, a Company situated in Heilong Jiang Province. The Long Jiang Forest Industries Group is a state-owned company that had acquired 55 percent of the shares in BaiShanLin and is intended to fully take over the company in 2016.
Two officials from the Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, along with two officials from BaiShanLin, accompanied me on the aircraft on the flight from Beijing to Heilong Jiang Province to attend the meeting.”
BaiShanLin is currently under the watchful eye of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU). It is this very company that was heavily criticized by Harmon for its wanton abuse of Guyana’s forests, excessive breaches of the nation’s laws and failure to fulfill its promise of a wood-processing facility.
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