By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Despite criticisms that the APNU+AFC government is displaying double standards by appointing Party members in the various regions, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has defended the appointment of AFC member, Dr Veerasammy Ramyya as the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region 6, East Berbice/Corentyne.
At a post cabinet media briefing on Friday, September 04, Harmon was reminded by the media that Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, upon assuming office, had stated that posts such as the REO will not be filled with political appointees.
But Harmon made it clear that these posts are always “quasi political… It’s always been like that,” noting that the REOs are contracted employees and do not require Public Service Approval.
“We fully support the appointment of Dr Ramyya in that area. We believe that Dr Ramyya’s own popularity in Region 6, his own experience in Region 6, the fact that he actually won an election against the PPP in that area on his own, demonstrates the capacity of Dr Ramyya to perform in this critical area of government business,” Harmon told the news conference.
iNews had reported that Ramayya had recently revealed his intentions to resign from the AFC after he was not offered a post that best suits his capabilities in the APNU+AFC government.
During a telephone interview with iNews on Thursday, September 03, Ramayya confirmed that he will be taking up the post on Monday, September 07, replacing Paul Ramrattan, who served in the capacity for several years under the PPP.
In defending Dr Ramyya’s appointment, Harmon explained that the performance of some REOs has not been up to standard and the government has to ensure it employs persons it is comfortable with, so as not to stymie progress.
“It is important that government’ programme not be stymied, that there be no blockages in the way to providing the quality of service as a government, which we have committed to giving the people of this country.”
Referring specifically to the issue in Region 6, the Minister of State said that the government received several reports as it relates to the unfair distribution of contracts in the area.
“It was our view because of the sums of money that we’re going to be spending in that region; the fact that in this budget, we have a very narrow window to provide a certain level of service between now and December, that we did not want anybody in position to affect the flow of resources that will go to the people.”
“We believe that as a government, we have the right to ensure that we have the right people in the right places to deliver the quality of service that we expect of them.”
He dismissed reports that the government plugged a “pacifier in Dr Ramyya’s ego,” given the fact that he threatened to resign from the AFC after he was not offered a position that best suits his needs.
“Mr Ramyya’s passion is to work in the community where he is from; it’s to work in Berbice. I think he did indicate that the offer made to him required him to travel from Berbice to Georgetown and back to Berbice. He prefers to work in an area where he is best suited; he prefers to work in an area where his talents can be best used and where he is most challenged. He feels if he works in Region 6, that he can bring a greater quality of service to the people of that region,” Harmon told the media.
He reiterated that the government will not condone REOs who are abusive and who refuse to execute the mandate of the elected councils.
“This was a problem which we had in the previous administration,” Harmon said, explaining that some REOs blatantly disregarded decisions by the council and took directions from Freedom House.