Nandlall tells Harmon challenge to termination “woefully misplaced”
One day after being relieved of his duties as Director General at the then Ministry of the Presidency, APNU/AFC’s Joseph Harmon is now challenging his removal from the post – a move which has been described by Attorney General Anil Nandlall as woefully misplaced.
On Thursday, General Secretary of the APNU/AFC coalition and recently inducted member of the PNC Central Executive Council, Joseph Harmon was informed by the PPP/C Government that his services are no longer required.
In a letter from Nandlall, Harmon was informed that “having regard to the nature of the job, which you were engaged to execute, and did in fact execute, it is no longer possible or practical for you to perform those tasks under the new Government”.
He was further reminded of the fact that he was relieved of his job as Director General of the MOTP (which has been renamed Office of the President by the new Government) sometime in April 2020, when he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the coalition’s COVID-19 Task Force; thereby making his removal “consensual” and the termination of his contract “mutual”.
However, Harmon responded to Nandlall’s correspondent, stating “…I do not recognise your authority and your convoluted attempt to explain the arbitrary capricious action of a fraudulent Government to deny me of contractual benefits. I shall pursue this matter further.”
After receiving the letter, Nandlall on Friday responded that Harmon’s non-recognition of his authority as AG is “absolutely of no moment”.
Moreover, regarding his complaint of denial of contractual benefits, the Attorney General told Harmon that “…sagacious counsel, once solicited, will hopefully persuade you that ‘contractual benefits’ only devolve upon the breach of a subsisting, valid and enforceable contract. In your case, as I have informed previously, there is no longer such a contract. In consequence, your expectation is woefully misplaced.”
The former Minister of State under the coalition had to step down from that post and his parliamentary seat last year after the courts ruled that dual citizens cannot sit in the National Assembly.
He was subsequently appointed as Director General of MOTP – a post created just for him by the coalition regime – with a salary of $900,000 and over $500,000 in non-taxable allowances as well as other perks and benefits.
These include a gratuity of 22.5 per cent of his basic salary every six months and his housing, telephone bills, internet bills, electricity bills, and security being paid for by the State. He also received a motor car and driver provided by the State or duty-free concession of up to 4000cc per three years period.
Harmon’s Director General contract, which was signed on May 1, 2019, was for three years, expiring on May 31, 2022.
Meanwhile, Harmon had applied for 42 days’ leave after the new PPP/C Government took office earlier this month.
As the new Administration transitions into office, it has made it clear that there is no room for political appointees under the APNU/AFC to remain on the job. In fact, several such individuals who have been receiving super salaries have already been relieved of their duties.
During a press conference on Friday, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo reiterated that the PPP/C will not be witch-hunting professional public servants.
He disclosed that President Irfaan Ali has asked for an “appeal mechanism” to be in place for persons who feel they were unfairly dismissed to reach out to him to review their case.
“But this doesn’t go for political appointees. They must not appeal. This is for a junior staff who might get caught up in the removal process. They can have an appeal mechanism directly to the President… or one of his staff [as designated by him],” Jagdeo stated.