By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Dharamkumar Seeraj says he was not asked to resign from his post by the new APNU+AFC government, nor does he intend to tender his resignation.
The General Manager of the GRDB, Jagnarine Singh has already offered his resignation, which has been accepted by the government. Seeraj addressed a press conference on Friday, June 26, at the Sleep – in Hotel in Georgetown in his capacity as General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association, where he criticized Minister of State, Joseph Harmon for reportedly stating that the GRDB is responsible for the bankrupt PetroCaribe Fund and as such, the Board will be changed.
Seeraj pointed out that the life of the Board comes to an end on Tuesday, June 30 and he is not certain what will happen next; however he is not too optimistic.
Prior to the announcement by Minister Harmon that the Fund was empty, Seeraj said that the GRDB had no knowledge of what was taking place, since they are not responsible for it.
As a result of the bankrupt fund, the government is now forced to find US$15 million for the next shipment of rice to Venezuela. Minister Harmon had stated that tneither of the two agencies affiliated with the rice industry – the GRDB and the Guyana Rice Producers’ Association (RPA) will be getting their hands on the money, but rather a mechanism would be formulated under the Ministry of Finance for the farmers to be paid and for the money to be utilized.
However, Seeraj said that the statements by Harmon are “wholly inaccurate, contemptuous and obviously in-keeping with the wider smear campaign by the APNU+AFC Administration. The GRDB has no jurisdiction, no authority or no responsibility over the PetroCaribe account/fund and how it is managed. The RPA is of the view that these false statements were designed to fulfill a particular political agenda as it relates to the GRDB.”
Seeraj reiterated that the GRDB is not mismanaged and he is satisfied with the overall management of the rice industry.
“The GRDB is one of the better run State agencies. We’re a role model, not only locally in terms of extension services but also within the Caribbean…Our extension services is second to none in this country, so to say that it’s being mismanaged just because farmers are not getting paid, is really you know hoodwinking the general public and farmers,” the RPA’s General Secretary said.
He further noted that “It is unfortunate that the new administration has spent most of its time and energy so far on carrying out a smear campaign rather than putting into action those strategies, projects and initiatives it claims are of better value for the advancement and development of the rice sector and the growth of the economy as a whole.”
He concluded that the RPA stands proud of its record and the work it continues to do in the interest of farmers and the industry.