Georgetown, Guyana – (October 18, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, reiterated that responsibility for the oil and gas sector rests solely with President David Granger, even though he is answerable to the National Assembly for the Ministry of the Presidency and its departments, which includes the Department of Energy.
Minister Harmon was at the time, speaking to reporters on the side-lines of the opening ceremony of the Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management High Level Meeting of Caribbean Ministers from Small Island Developing States at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown.
Responding to an article carried on the online news site, Demerara Waves, captioned “Granger takes charge of oil and gas sector; Harmon not required to meet with oil company executives”, dated October 17, 2018, Minister Harmon explained that at previous Post-Cabinet Press briefings, it was made explicitly clear that the Department of Energy will be under the purview of the President.
“I had announced that His Excellency would have established the Department of Energy from August 1, 2018 and that it would be headed by a Director, Dr. Mark Bynoe and that the entity will report directly to His Excellency who would exercise personal supervision over it. So it is strange [to hear this now]. You understand that in the way in which our official gazettes are published…with ministerial responsibility that all of these issues, which fall under the President and the Ministry of the Presidency will be published under my name so that I will answer to those issues in the National Assembly,” Minister Harmon said.
At the Post-Cabinet Press briefing on March 8, 2018, Mr. Neil Marks, a reporter attached to the local media outfit, the News Room, questioned whether the Minister of State would be gazetted as the person who holds responsibility for this Department. Minister Harmon had responded that, “the Department of Energy is under the Ministry of the Presidency and will receive direct guidance from His Excellency the President. The quintet of Ministers with responsibility for oil and gas have been tasked with setting up the various items that I’ve explained to you, 10 different things – the structure, functioning, the capacity building and all of these different issues will be dealt with under that. So, it’s basically giving more space, more authority, more resources and the direct eye of the President in dealing with these issues.”
Further, Mr. Denis Chabrol from the Demerara Waves, followed up on this question, querying who will be the reporting Minister to the House when it comes to the Energy Department. Minister Harmon stated on that occasion that “once it is in the Ministry of the Presidency, the Minister of State is the person who will answer to the Parliament for any matter that relates to the Ministry of the Presidency.”
In reference to a letter from the President to oil companies, which Demerara Waves quoted in its article, Minister Harmon said that even before the President’s letter was dispatched; he would have already written to the companies and other agencies informing them of the change.
“Even before the letter that you spoke about written by His Excellency, I had written to all of the companies including the international banks and some foreign countries indicating to them that the Department of Energy was established on August 1, 2018 and that all issues in relation to oil and gas were to be referred to that entity under Dr. Bynoe. It is important, with this being a new entity, that we establish very clearly the authority of the entity and this is what His Excellency, the President has reinforced; that this is a new department of Government established and therefore we have to work assiduously to ensure that it is given that authority and scope which is required by us,” the Minister of State said.