Harmon maintains Cabinet seat, to assist President in managing Ministry
Although he is no longer a Minister of Government, Joseph Harmon will be attending Cabinet meetings and will continue to host the post-Cabinet press briefings, as he did in the past as Minister of State.
Harmon, who was forced to resign as a parliamentarian and a Minister, was recently appointed Director General of the Ministry of Presidency and among his new responsibilities will be to continue hosting the post-Cabinet press conference.
This, he added, will result in him still having to attend Cabinet meetings.
“I can say to you; one specific responsibility I’ve been given is the continuation of the post-Cabinet press briefing. Hence my being here today, and the fact that the President has invited me to sit in the Cabinet meetings so that I can brief the nation on the things that are dealt with in the Cabinet,” Harmon stated.
According to the Director General of Ministry of the Presidency, he is still unclear as to what his full responsibilities will entail.
“[The nature of my new duties] is a work in progress and that [hosting the post-Cabinet press briefing] was one of the duties that has been assigned to me. As the other duties are made clear and certain, I will give that information out,” the State Minister told reporters at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.
Harmon, along with three other senior Government Ministers, were forced to resign as parliamentarians due to their dual citizenship status.
By resigning as Members of the National Assembly, they also effectively resigned as Cabinet Ministers.
President David Granger told reporters on Thursday morning that he needs Harmon to help him manage the Ministry of the Presidency.
“All Ministers are my assistants but Mr Harmon, in particular, will have a non-ministerial role in helping me to manage the Ministry of the Presidency,” he posited.
According to the Head of State, the Ministry of the Presidency has several large Departments which effectively places him with the responsibility over several critical areas such as defence, environment and energy. Hence the need for help.
“There are three large Departments – the Department of Public Service, the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport and the Department of Energy. These are all very huge administrative responsibilities and I needed assistance in helping me to manage them,” the President noted.
However, along with Harmon, the Ministry of the Presidency has Dawn Hastings-Williams, who was appointed the new Minister of State, and a Permanent Secretary. There is also a Cabinet Secretary, Edward Persico.
Furthermore, the Ministry of the Presidency also includes Tabitha Sarabo-Halley as the Public Service Minister and Simona Broomes as the Minister with responsibility for Youth Development.
These new appointments and reassignments within the coalition Government came on the heels of recent court rulings barring persons with dual citizenship from sitting in the National Assembly.
This saw, in addition to Harmon, former Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, former Business Minister Dominic Gaskin and former Public Service Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine being forced to resign.
Nevertheless, it was noted that the President is in talks with these other resigned Ministers on their role in the Government. In fact, he has already met with Greenidge and Dr Roopnaraine.
“I would like to have them on board… I hope that they continue to assist the Government. Minister Greenidge, for example, served under President [Forbes] Burnham and President [Desmond] Hoyte so he has immense experience and I hope he continues to serve but it is up to him. Minister Roopnaraine as well is not without experience as an academic and again, it’s up to him… I would like them to work but it is up to them to decide if they want to continue to serve,” the Head of State asserted.
As his coalition Administration undergoes this rebalancing period, President Granger further noted that there could be more additional appointments at the junior ministerial level if the need arises.