Govt overrides Nagamootoo’s decision to reinstate Sherod Duncan

Former Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s authority to order the reinstatement of Sherod Duncan at the Guyana Chronicle was undermined by the APNU-faction of the coalition Government.

Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon has made it clear that Duncan, who was found guilty of several financial breaches, remains fired – in accordance with a decision taken by the company’s Board of Directors.

“The Government’s position is that Mr Duncan is off the job,” Harmon boldly told reporters during a post-cabinet press briefing Friday.

This position significantly undermines the clear instruction issued by the Prime Minister to the Board’s Chairperson, Geeta Chandan-Edmond, for Duncan to be reinstated as General Manager.

Nagamootoo, in his May 31, 2019 letter, blasted the Board of Directors for dismissing Duncan, labelling the move as “arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful”.

The Prime Minister’s interference in the work of the State Board has resulted in the Chairperson and three Board Members resigning, leaving the board with only three Directors currently.

Harmon has since explained that Duncan remains off the job, until and unless a new Board decides to reinstate him.

“We, as I said earlier, respect the independence of these boards, once these board are appointed. And my understanding is that the board took a decision with respect to the termination of Mr Duncan and therefore it will require another board to determine whether Mr Duncan will return to work or stay dismissed,” Harmon pointed out.

The decision by Nagamootoo – a member of the Alliance For Change (AFC) arm of the coalition government – was supported by party leader Raphael Trotman and Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan.

Trotman had previously expressed that the decision to fire Duncan was too “harsh” while Ramjattan said it was too “extreme”.

In fact, only recently the AFC Chairman said Duncan should have been reinstated a long time ago.

Meanwhile, Harmon said the issue will come up for further discussion at Cabinet’s next meeting.

An independent audit found that during Duncan’s probationary tenure as General Manager at the State newspaper company, there were several breaches of financial regulations.

In one instance, Duncan took an overseas trip costing over $700,000 even though there is no documented approval for such an event and to date, documents were not brought forward to support these expenditures.