Cabinet could discuss possibly releasing all Govt MoUs – Harmon

first_imgFollowing Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge avoiding questions after signing a multimillion-dollar loan with China, Guyana’s Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said on Monday that Government’s senior ministers could discuss the possibility of disclosing all agreements.This comes as concerns grow over loans being possible debt traps to Guyana ahead of the realisation of the emergent oil and gas sector.Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Harmon also signalled that Government could move towards constructing a paved highway from Linden to Lethem under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.“Yes, this was one of the matters that were raised; the question of the road between Lethem and Linden and going through … this has actually been on our agenda from the time we came into office,” the Minister of State noted.However, ahead of any possible signing of this and any future projects, media operatives questioned Harmon on whether or not the Administration would be poised to release the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs).“I don’t know that there’s a call being made for every Memorandum of Understanding signed between a bilateral or multilateral agency for every single MoU to be made public. If that’s the call you’re making, then certainly Cabinet will have to determine that, but MoUs are signed by Governments worldwide,” the Government spokesperson identified.After Guyana signed a MoU on Energy Sector Cooperation with neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, Government signed a US$52 million concession loan for a broadband project in addition to another ‘economic and technical cooperation’ agreement. Media operatives highlighted transparency concerns at the post-Cabinet press briefing.Ahead of today’s scheduled Cabinet discussion, Harmon, however, said that agreements could be revealed once there were no security concerns and they were within the public’s interest. After the signing with Trinidad, details of the MoU were seen in the local press the following day but the same was not done for the Guyana-China deal.It was in July 2018 that the Foreign Affairs Minister signed another MoU with Chinese Ambassador Cui Jianchun to enhance cooperation in five main areas: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, trade and investment, financial integration, and people-to-people interaction. Public infrastructure was also expected to be a major focus under this agreement.At that time, Greenidge hinted at the possibility of the currently deplorable Linden-Lethem road being financed under this initiative. He had said: “We have been speaking to all bilateral and multilateral partners. During our discussions with the Brazilians, we did discuss and explore the possibility of using funding from the Latin America-China Funds to fund the road. That is something very much on the cards, and something we are working on.”In July 2017, members of a ministerial team from Guyana visited their counterparts in neighbouring Brazil, during which it was agreed that both countries would provide financial resources for the engineering and design of the Linden-Lethem road.It was reported that the two countries would be working closely with the People’s Republic of China to access a US$50 billion China Select Fund to complete this critical piece of infrastructure that holds great potential in terms of integrating the two countries and improving trade between the neighbours and the Caribbean.Minister Greenidge had noted that another major project that can benefit from this MoU with China is the new Demerara River Bridge, which Government was working on constructing to replace the Demerara Harbour Bridge, which has far outlived its 10-year lifespan.The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a significant development strategy launched by the Chinese Government with the intention of promoting economic cooperation among countries along the proposed Belt and Road routes.last_img read more