In wake of a call by the Alliance For Change for a trimming of the powers entrusted in the Minister of State, President Granger intends to stand by the duties that were assigned to Minister Harmon when the government took office 11 months ago.
The AFC is the smaller party in the APNU+AFC coalition.
Following a Leadership retreat yesterday, the party stated that it “is of the opinion that the current difficulties which the government has encountered in the continuing revelations arising out of the appointment of the Advisor on Business Development and the issues surrounding this, have their roots in the concentration of the powers of the office of the Cabinet Secretary, the Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency and the effective Head of Presidential Secretariat in a single person”.
But questioned about the AFC’s position this evening, President Granger appeared in full support of Mr. Harmon holding on to the three portfolios and their responsibilities saying that he does not believe they are “burdensome” to Harmon. However, he stated that when Cabinet meets on Tuesday, he will get a better understanding of the AFC position, but he also pointed out that it is a position that has never been raised before by anyone.
“I don’t think that they are so burdensome that he cannot take all three responsibilities. I am standing by the duties which were assigned to him last May and this is what we have been working with for the last 11 months and this is what was explained to the cabinet retreat in January”, the President said.
He added that “we had a retreat of the cabinet earlier this year and we put out a very clear statement on the responsibilities of all 14 Ministers and the Ministry of the Presidency. So there is a book and it is stated and nobody made any objections to the duties which were assigned to the Minister of State then and it would be surprising that after two months, people feel that the duties are being misused or they need to be trimmed. But I will have to wait on my colleagues to understand what they really mean but as far as I am concerned, there is no overburdening of the Ministry and I don’t see what powers they need to be reduced”.
The issue is expected to come up at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. The AFC’s leadership has mandated the party’s members in the cabinet to raise the issue.
AFC Executive Members have long whispered about the amount of power that the President has placed in the Minister of State. Some AFC leaders have quietly raised the issue in the past.
But the President sees Harmon as one of his most trusted political colleagues. Harmon served as the coalition’s campaign manager at the last election and is also the General Secretary of the APNU.