Following is the full text of a statement (letter) issued to the Media yesterday by Nigel Hinds on the brouhaha surrounding Minister of State, Joe Harmon’s recent trip to China and his appointment of businessman Brian Tiwari as his Business Advisor:
Forbes Burnham in 1985 noted in his last interview with the Caribbean Press “In life and politics as in mathematics you have to accept the highest common factor.”
Using that analogy; when we look at the structure of PNCR or APNU – it is an incontrovertible fact that aside from President David Granger; Minister Joseph Harmon is the most likely individual to lead PNCR or APNU Coalition.
What is corrupt or unpardonable about 1. The appointment of Mr. Brian Tiwari as Business Development Advisor to Minister Harmon and 2. The determination by the Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary that the seizure of assets from Bai Shan Ling was uncalled for at that juncture?
The current media pronouncements on the actions of Minister Harmon as unjustified and indefensible are absent of any evidence conveyed to the public. When one considers the position Mr. Harmon holds in the current Government, the statements made by many commentators are ridiculous, be it Chris Ram in Kaieteur News dated April 3, 2016: Harmon’s action warrants immediate investigation… President Granger must take action which shows zero-tolerance for reckless, unlawful and/or corrupt behaviour; or Anand Goolsarran who made several verbal assaults on Harmon, first on March 31, 2016 in Kaieteur News, Goolsarran “expressed his shock to learn that Harmon, a man who spoke against the appalling backdoor deals made by the PPP, would appoint businessman Brian “BK” Tiwarie as Ministerial Advisor on Business Development.
Goolsarran was even more shocked that three senior AFC Cabinet members – Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan and the Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin – have no knowledge of this appointment.
Goolsarran further unleashed his wrath against Harmon with Goolsarran’s speculative pronouncement, to wit: “It is evident that the President needs to place a curb on the tendency of the Minister of the Presidency to act unilaterally and without obtaining his prior approval.”
In Kaieteur News on April 4, 2016, Goolsarran continued his onslaught against the former lieutenant Colonel by stating that “This runaway train must be halted in its track before it is too late. Mr. Harmon is behaving just like the former HPS, (Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon) if not worse,”
No one seriously believes 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. 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.
On April 6, 2016 in Kaieteur News the article captioned GRA will now operate without political interference – Chairman (Rawle Lucas Non-executive chairman of GRA). This kind of fairy tale thinking, is consistent with the utopian pronouncements of Ram, Goolsarran and Lucas. Ironically, Mr Rawle Lucas who waxes eloquently on interference is often times deemed to be interfering and usurping the executive management responsibilities of Ms. Ingrid Griffith, Commissioner General (ag) of GRA. Oh what a tangled web we weave when we utter to deceive.
Rawle Lucas, who in March of 2016 was appointed Executive Director for Economic Cooperation and Global Trade Investment within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, penned an article as a columnist in Stabroek News, where Mr. Lucas wrote in his Sunday column dated April 3, 2016 that “Politicians and other public officials need to stop monkeying around on these issues (a most disparaging remark by a public servant) and understand that the entire country is at risk of being marginalized by the international economic community for failure to uphold its own laws”. As offensive as those comments were to many hardworking politicians and public officials, Stabroek News apparently embraced the “monkeying around” label by referencing it in their article captioned “Much more needs to be done about corruption – Rawle Lucas” dated April 4, 2016.
Also, in the Stabroek News Editorial on April 4, 2016, we are exposed to a barrage of insults against the Cabinet Secretary re: “Minister of State farcical appointment of Mr. Brian Tiwari as a Business Advisor to the government” and “The president him-self would have sought an immediate explanation from Minister Harmon on his return from China about the rationale for the appointment of Mr. Tiwari and then determine appropriate disciplining of the Minister. The editorial is loaded with unfounded allegations and appalling suggestions, including “It immediately raises the spectre that the appointment was a sinecure or providing a benefit solely to those involved.” and Minister Harmon actions raise serious questions about his judgement and he clearly needs to be reined in.” In my opinion the writer of this editorial needs to focus on facts and not conjectures.
To move from the ridiculous to the absurd, we have Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) issuing a statement in Stabroek News dated April 5, 2016 that preached: “It was noted that by any standard, the conduct of Harmon and by extension, the Government, constitutes corruption.”
I conclude with a few questions for our informed commentators/columnists/editor:
- What is the justification for rescinding Mr. Tiwari’s appointment?
- Was Mr. Tiwari’s race a factor in rescinding his appointment? See the last paragraph of Ms. Ryhaan Shah – Guyana Times Article dated April 3, 2016.
- Is there any one among our informed commentators or columnists aware of the Modus Operandi for appointing advisors to Ministers and to the President?
- Is Mr. Tiwari not eminently qualified to provide business development advice, based on his mega success in building BK International Inc. into Guyana’s largest privately owned company, spanning several industries?
- What are the names of all the advisors and the remuneration made to those advisors, working across the different Ministries?
- How is Minister Harmon’s Business trip to China, a country that is one of Guyana’s largest foreign investors a new form of corruption?
- Is the decision of the Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary to ask GRA officers and representatives of the Special Organized Crime Unit to stand down – a new form of corruption?
- Could the seizing of Assets of Bai Shan Lin have been done in a more tactful manner, considering our substantial fractional dependence on foreign investment from China and Chinese Companies and also considering the role of its Managing Director, Mr. Chu Hongbo, in the Association of Chinese Enterprises in Guyana?
- Who are the architects behind the leakage of the appointment letter of Mr. Tiwari as Advisor to the Minister of State?
- Who are the advisors in the diaspora and exactly who are they advising?
- Does it matter whether it was Mr. Harmon or Mr. Tiwari who initiated the process of the advisory role?
- Does a Minister have the authority to appoint an advisor to his/her Ministry?
The jumping on the bandwagon to destroy Harmon is misplaced, appears to have divisive intentions and seems to be a form of cognitive dissonance.
Lucas Anthony Seneca: “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”