Jagdeo trying to deflect criminal probe into PPP-C members– Minister Harmon

GINA, Guyana, Friday, February 17, 2017

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has accused the Leader of the Opposition and, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC), Bharrat Jagdeo of deflecting criminal probes from his own party members; by seeking to lay private criminal charges against the government ministers.

Minister Harmon was responding to reports in the media, which stated that Jagdeo said that the Opposition party intends to bring private criminal charges against government officials and Members of Parliament (MPs) for failing to comply with the Integrity Commission Act. Jagdeo claimed that the government officials, including ministers, are allegedly enriching themselves from the State’s coffers.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon addressing the media at the post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency

Addressing media operatives at the post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency today, Minister Harmon however, pointed out that, “There are a number of persons who the Leader of the Opposition is seeking to deflect attention from. They are the subject of criminal investigations,” the minister told the media operatives.

The PPP-C ministers and top government officials have been under the Special Organised Crime Unit’s (SOCU’s) radar for several months now for a number of issues including acquiring large tracts of seaside housing lands at Sparendaam/Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara at way below the market prices. They also include implications relating to the forensic audits of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the Guyana Marketing Corporation, Cricket World Cup 2007, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), Go-Invest, and the Mahaica-Mahicony-Abary/Agriculture Development Authority (MMA/ADA) among others.

Minister Harmon explained that SOCU is receiving international help towards bringing these cases to the court. “The wheels of justice turn slowly but surely,” the minister said. “All of these are matters which concern criminal activity and are being investigated now with a view of laying charges against persons in the court, and this is being done by SOCU. Additionally, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), information has been going to them as well about cases which involve tax laws and where there are significant breaches of our tax laws, and so we will get some activities there as well,”  the minister explained.

Further, Minister Harmon said that the Leader of the Opposition “Should be the last person to be talking about filing criminal charges about anything,” because Jagdeo himself has come under scrutiny. Minister Harmon noted that the Inter-American Council on Human Rights is one case which came before the government, and it is in relation to the periods of the killings which occurred under Jagdeo’s administration. “They have actually cited him as one of the persons that should be (held) accountable,” Minister Harmon said.

There is also the report of the Council of Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) which has clearly stated that “Jagdeo will go down in history as a man who has done absolutely nothing for his nation while in office and that he can only receive the lowest of marks from any independent evaluation through his tolerance of crime, racism and dismal social progress,” Harmon said.

The same report noted that there was a decreasing amount of funds being spent on education under Jagdeo’s stewardship, Minister Harmon said. He pointed out that the country was today seeing and feeling the impact of this under-resourcing for the education sector. “This is why we have to now get into emergency spending of millions of dollars for the Grade Six examination for Math and English. This is what is happening. This is the result of bad spending that we have to now correct,” the minister said.

The coalition government’s 2017 allocation for education is 17.2 percent of its Budget.  Minister Harmon noted that this is a significant rise from the 6.1 percent that it was in Jagdeo’s time. The coalition government is also spending more on infrastructure, health and public security, the minister said, “So, when these gentlemen speak of commitment to fight crime, education or health, this is the reality and we are doing as much as we can with limited resources and international help to focus on these issues which affect the Guyanese people,” the minister said.

 

By: Synieka Thorne

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