…says amount actually handed to Guyana only $34.8B
Government’s Chief spokesperson, Minister of State Joseph Harmon was today (Tuesday) publicly corrected by the local European Union (EU) delegation, following his now infamous ‘sugar rant’ and accusations on Friday last where he told media operatives that “they (opposition Peoples Progressive Party) should explain what it is they did with all of this money.”
He was at the time drawing reference to the PPP/C stint in office during which time the EU had turned over to Guyana through several tranches, budget support to the local sugar industry as a result of the unilateral changes made in the preferential arrangement with Guyana and the EU for the purchase of Sugar under the African Caribbean and Pacific sugar producing countries pact.
The misquoted figures originally disseminated by the EU was picked up by the Minister of State without any sense of corroboration and proceeded to chastise the PPP/C on Friday last during his post cabinet briefing.
Asked to comment on what turns out to be a ‘grossly incorrect statement,’ the Minister of State without further checks or hesitation proceeded to tell media operatives it is clear that the $348B was not channeled towards the ailing sugar industry since, “we wouldn’t have been in the situation we are today…This is huge sums of money that clearly did not go where it was meant to go into the sugar industry.”
The local EU delegation by way of a public missive today however sought to clear the air and has since apologized for the inconvenience caused.
According to the EU statement, the figure of €166,667,000 was given as the amount granted by the EU in budget support to the sugar industry in Guyana between 2006 and 2013.
“While this is the correct figure, the corresponding amount in Guyana dollars was inadvertently given as GYD$348.5 billion, when it should have been approximately GYD$34.85 billion (depending exchange rate used)…Therefore, the amount allocated in budget support to sugar by the EU from 2006 to 2013 was €166.67 million, or in Guyanese dollars GYD$34.85 billion.”
Despite the seemingly glaring inaccuracy—that could have been verified by government before making any official responses—the State Minister instead proceeded to berate the political opposition and its Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.
Harmon at the time told media operatives present at the Ministry of the Presidency, “when the PPP and some of their friends are going to sugar workers and crying we are sorry, we are sorry for you, they should explain what it is they did with all of this money.”
Responding to Jagdeo’s call for further inquiries into government’s excesses, the State Minister at the time suggested that an inquiry into the Budget support from the EU would uncover what went on.
According to Harmon, “if you inquire into this you will find that the bulk of this money went elsewhere.”
The rant by the Government’s Chief spokesperson had forced Opposition Leader Jagdeo, who was on an overseas sojourn at the time, to call for an immediate retraction on the part of Harmon and Government.
In fact, Jagdeo rejected the statements as a “total falsehood”, stating that the contention being peddled that the EU paid to Guyana that huge sum of money as compensation for the 36 per cent cut in preferential market prices for sugar is far from the truth.
The former Head of State pointed out that the total sum paid to Guyana was approximately $30 billion. “Indeed, the final installment of G$5.4 billion was paid to the coalition Government in October last year. The sum of G$348.5 billion is over ten times the sum actually received by Guyana,” he said in a statement.
Further, more than $30 billion was spent by the PPP/C Administration on the Skeldon Factory alone, Jagdeo said, while making a commitment to address this issue more expansively upon his return to Guyana later this week.