Ramjattan says “I am not talking”
“I will not answer that” – Oscar Clarke
By Edward Layne
The Alliance For Change (AFC) and the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) the two larger parties in
the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) ten-month-old coalition government, have refused to reveal the names of the over 30 persons who were appointed advisers upon their recommendation.
On Thursday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon disclosed that during the period 6 October, 2015 to 8 February, 2016, 34 persons were identified on the recommendation of the AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, the PNCR General Secretary Oscar Clarke, and the APNU General Secretary Harmon, and the instruments were accordingly issued.
However, the other 33, who are supporters of APNU/AFC are yet to be named.
When contacted on Friday for the identities of the AFC nominees who were appointed, that party’s leader Khemraj Ramjattan refused to speak to this publication.
Even before the question was asked, Ramjattan declared, “as I told you all, I am not talking, take care, bye.”
Meanwhile, AFC General Secretary David Patterson also refused to comment on the matter.
“I have no comment, write that I have no comment at all,” Patterson said.
General Secretary of PNCR Oscar Clarke was also contacted but while he confirmed that he did recommend persons for appointment he refused to state how many persons and their identities.
When told about the disclosure by Harmon and asked how many persons he had recommended and their
identities, the PNCR GS stated, “you didn’t ask him (Harmon) that question?”.
When the question was put again to Clarke, he insisted that this publication put the question to Minister Harmon
“I made recommendations yes, but you ask him how many persons… the 34 persons he mentioned, you ask him how many recommendations I made,” Clarke insisted.
After the question was put repeatedly to the PNCR’s GS, he declared, “I do not propose to answer that, you ask him, I am not going to answer that, you could ask me all night I won’t answer.”
Harman’s disclosure is the first time the government confirmed that indeed it appointed more than 30 “honorary” advisers.
Harmon made the disclosure in his public statements on the appointment of businessman Brian Tiwari as one of the 34 advisers, after the coalition government came under public attacks for the appointment of these persons who were described as “campaign supporters.”
He revealed that the President was not informed at the time of the appointment, but was subsequently informed, but was not in agreement with having Tiwari as an “Honorary Advisor” and the appointment was rescinded. The Minister of State said he agreed with the President’s decision and his rationale for rescinding the appointment.
It is unclear whether or not the President will rescind the appointments of the other 33.
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has been consistently calling for government to be more open in its decision-making, including making public the Terms of Reference (ToRs), as well as the names of the nearly 30 persons, many of whom were appointed in the United States and Canada, as Advisers on Diaspora Affairs.
PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall had told reporters that while a few persons were named, there has been no proper public disclosure by the Administration regarding these persons and what they were appointed to do.
“We have not heard any public announcement emanating from the Ministry of the Presidency. We want to know who these people are, how they were selected, what their qualifications are, what are their sectorial responsibilities, what are their portfolios, what are their remuneration packages, offices going to be rented for them, expenditures are going to be paid, light bills and phone bills are going to be paid, utility expenses are going to be paid. We need to know these things,” Nandlall told a news conference at the PPP’s headquarters on Robb Street, Georgetown.
At an AFC appreciation dinner and dance in Toronto in October 2015, Earth Marshall, Ron Alert and Dr Rohan Somar of the AFC’s New York Chapter and Accountant Tameshwar Lilmohan of the party’s Tornoto Chapter were appointed Ministerial Advisers on Diaspora Affairs and presented with their Certificates of Instruments by Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, on behalf of President David Granger.
The others, according to Nandlall, were appointed at a People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during the same period.