…will not reveal names of campaign donors or amounts
President David Granger has rejected wholesale corruption claims against his Administration in light of accusations currently hurled at Minister of State Joseph Harmon and he has demanded that non-governmental organisations address their concerns internally before releasing unverified information to the public, which can leave damaging effects on innocent individuals.
Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) had explicitly accused the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Administration of being corrupt, basing its assertion on the circumstances in which Minister Harmon issued what he described as an “honorary” appointment of businessman Brian Tiwari as his “business advisor” and also in staying a GRA order to seize two vehicles from Bai Shan Lin.
In breaking his silence on the issue, President Granger expressed his dissatisfaction with the way TIGI haphazardly accused his Administration of being “corrupt”, without being apprised of all the facts and without even making attempts to seek an explanation.
“When they make statements that the Government is corrupt, what does that mean? Does it mean that I am corrupt… does it mean that the Prime Minister is corrupt? It is an outrageous statement and I would ask TIGI to verify its information before going to the media. It is difficult for me to accept a blanket of criticism of the entire Administration because of one incident,” he responded as he fielded questions from Guyana Times during the recent broadcast of ‘The Public Interest’.
Minister Harmon is currently subject to public opprobrium after the Business Advisor appointment document was leaked and published by the Kaieteur News which kept up a daily crescendo of criticisms on Tiwari and Harmon. The criticisms were addressed by several individuals questioning whether Tiwari was being attacked because he was a successful businessman.
Harmon was also cited for instructions to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) halting the seizure of vehicles from Chinese logging company BaiShanLin – a firm also not favoured by the Kaieteur News. The vehicles were later ostentatiously seized.
Kaieteur News Owner Glenn Lall had conspired in 2015 to defraud the state over 100M dollars in taxes but was offered a settlement as opposed to full prosecution by the laws.
But during the recent telecast, President Granger emphasised that TIGI should have addressed their concerns with the Government before making wild accusations.
“As a responsible non-governmental organisation, I would ask Transparency Institute to have a meeting with Mr Harmon and ask those questions before going to the press… If they have questions, put those questions to Mr Harmon and if those questions are not answered satisfactorily, then you can make a release to the press,” he stated.
He explained that it be rather counterproductive to have a meaningful discussion on the issue by shouting back and forth at each other via the media. Furthermore, Granger revealed that both of the concerns have already been dealt with.
“When the matter of Mr Tiwari came to my attention, I rescinded the appointment and I said that the Minister of Business is competent to provide advice to me on matters of business and that was the end of that matter as far as I am concerned,” the President reminded.
It was noted earlier in the week that no one could seriously belief that an appointment made by Dr. Luncheon as Cabinet Secretary would be rescinded by Presidents of that era. Also, a directive from the Cabinet Secretary to desist from a particular action by a Government Agency is not unusual and falls within the duties of the Cabinet Secretary/Minister of State.
In fact a commentator had stated that “the significant supervisory role of the Cabinet Secretary over the actions of Ministries, Government Agencies and State Controlled Corporations helps to ensure proper coordination and prevent pernicious acts to the functioning of the State, the image of Guyana and relationships with donor countries, particularly countries such as USA and China. Differences, if and when they occur should be resolved within the apparatus of the executive branch of government”.
In relation to the issue of BaiShanLin, Granger said Finance Minister Winston Jordan is dealing with the situation.
“As far as BaiShanLin is concerned, Mr Harmon said he was going to issue a statement. I’ve also had discussions with the Minister of Finance who is responsible for GRA and I believe corrective actions are being taken,” he stated.
Moreover, Granger explained that errors of judgment are bound to take place, but what makes the difference in good governance is how the issue is subsequently addressed.
“From time to time, errors of judgment will be made, I am not saying there was an error of judgment here but when complaints are made, they are investigated… and I am not saying that there was no error but explanations can be given and Mr Harmon had explanations,” he stated.