Statement by Minister of State, Hon. Joseph Harmon on the appointment of
Brian Tiwarie as Advisor
Georgetown, Guyana – (April 14, 2016) After the General and Regional Elections of 2015, many persons, who indicated their deep interest in assisting the Government and fulfilling its campaign promises were appointed to various positions. Some of those persons were not interested in formal employment or receiving remuneration, but were willing to contribute.
After some consultation, during which the Minister of Public Security and the Minister of Natural Resources gave advice, it was agreed that such persons should be appointed as Honorary Ministerial Advisors and that a Certificate entitled “Instrument of Appointment … Ministerial Adviser” would be issued.
Over the period October 6, 2015 to February 8, 2016, thirty-four persons were identified on the recommendation of the Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), the General Secretary of the Peoples National Congress (PNC) and the General Secretary of A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) and the Instruments were accordingly issued. Some of these appointments, particularly in the Diaspora, received wide publicity.
Mr. Brian Tiwari, upon the recommendation of the General Secretary of the APNU, was one such person identified and issued with an instrument. I was subsequently advised by the President, who was not aware of all the appointees, that he was not in agreement with this one and that the appointment should be rescinded on March 24, 2016. I agreed with the decision of His Excellency and his rationale for rescinding the appointment.
Statement by Minister of State, Hon. Joseph Harmon on request for delayed of action against Bai Shan Lin by GRA
Georgetown, Guyana – (April 14, 2016) Over the past weeks, several reports in the media conveyed the erroneous impression that I had used my official Government position to interfere in the work of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). Reports alleged also that there were corrupt dealings with the Company involved in the intended actions by the GRA.
I refrained from making a public response to those reports earlier because my actions were linked to Guyana’s diplomatic relations and its pursuit of foreign investment that would be beneficial to the people of Guyana.
The Cabinet has now been fully briefed on this and other matters, currently in the public domain and it has been agreed that I make a public statement on this and other matters.
On Thursday March 17, 2016 representation was made to me by an official of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Guyana on an urgent matter affecting one of their national’s company operations in Guyana. I was advised that personnel of the GRA had gone to the premises of Bai Shan Lin in furtherance of a Tax demand by the GRA of G$1.5 billion dollars.
The GRA personnel were intent on seizing movable assets of the Company. The Chinese official explained that the principals of the Company were not in Guyana and requested a stay of execution of the GRA’s action for 14 days pending the return of those principals, at which time they would go into the GRA to settle their indebtedness. The Embassy officials also gave the assurance that none of the assets of the Company would be removed, during that grace period.
Considering the importance of Guyana/China relations and the urgency of the matter, I made contact with the GRA and requested the facility. This request was granted. At the expiration of the 14 days requested, the GRA proceeded with its work.
Statement by Minister of State, Hon. Joseph Harmon on mode of travel while in China
Georgetown, Guyana – (April 14, 2016) I visited the People’s Republic of China on official Government business in March 2016.
The Ambassador of China to Guyana, who was in country at that time, made arrangements for me to meet officials of four companies, which had signalled their intention to make significant investments in Guyana. These Companies were located in Beijing, Shanghai, Hebei and Heilong Jiang Provinces.
In this regard, because of the significant distances involved and the limited time available on that trip, the Ambassador made arrangements for these companies to provide transportation, both air and land, for me to travel to their respective Head Offices.
On the March 27, 2016, one such arrangement was made for me to visit Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, a Company situated in Heilong Jiang Province. The Long Jiang Forest Industries Group is a state-owned company that had acquired 55 percent of the shares in Bai Shan Lin and is intended to fully take over the company in 2016.
Two officials from the Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, along with two officials from Bai Shan Lin, accompanied me on the aircraft on the flight from Beijing to Heilong Jiang Province to attend the meeting.
At the meeting, the Vice Director of the Company, Mr. Wong Dong Xu, in the presence of officials of Bai Shan Lin, gave the assurance that the Company’s officials will be in Guyana by May 2016 to complete due diligence for the takeover, and to satisfy and expand on the obligations of Bai Shan Lin to Guyana.
I used the opportunity to convey all of the concerns and expectations of the Government and people of Guyana with respect to foreign investment generally and those with respect to Bai Shan Lin in particular.
The Ministry made no official release on these matters at that time, since a prerequisite to that release would have been a formal briefing of the President and Cabinet.
The publication of a lone photograph, therefore, without seeking to investigate and report on its context was not the work of the Ministry of the Presidency. I wish to make no comment on the motivations for its publication.