The parliamentary opposition is surprised at the Donald Ramotar administration’s decision to revoke the work permit of the head of the contentious USAID-funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project Glen Bradbury, which APNU MP Joseph Harmon says will test diplomatic relations with the US.
“This was a wicked act on the part of the government… this is a vicious government in all of the Caribbean that can move to revoke a work permit by somebody who has been executing a programme that seeks to give powers to people at the grassroots level,” Harmon said, while adding that the administration should be embarrassed by its actions.
He said the government’s decision was unbelievable, considering that the project dealt directly with the promotion of democracy and consensus building to promote understanding and suggested that it has put Guyana in an awkward position when it comes to relations with the US.
“This project had been thought out and it has been long in the making. We are now in the stages of executing the projectand it is being embraced by the opposition, by civil society, [and the] private sector,” he noted. “So many people have been involved in this project from the conception, they must be disappointed in this government,” he added.
Harmon believed that the administration’s inability to control all the specifications of the project was responsible for its actions. When Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon announced the revocation of Bradbury’s work permit and extension of stay on Wednesday at a press briefing, he said it was “based on the conclusion that the immigration laws of Guyana have been offended by Mr Bradbury and his actions in Guyana.”
Luncheon stated, “It is a fact that the revocation has taken place and it is equally a fact that Mr Bradbury, a Canadian citizen has had the revocation brought to the attention both of his employer, the US government through its Ambassa-dor and through the Canadian High Commis-sion.”
The revocation is being seen as an escalation of the administration’s row with the US over the LEAD project, which is being implemented despite its objection. The project was inaugurated in July, 2013 but matters came to a head late last year when the government announced that it was abandoning it because of a lack of consultation—a charge that Washington has strongly rejected.
Harmon said on Wednesday that the government’s actions needed to be condemned. “The government’s behaviour has completely and utterly betrayed its non-support of the project,” he said. “It is a sad day for Guyana that this government would take such a step in the face of the project that is assisting people and now in the rolling out stages is just sad,” he added.
Harmon further said that the government’s stance showed that it was never committed to the LEAD project although it was embraced by other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan told Stabroek News that the government’s decision was “as crazy as it gets.”
Like Harmon, Ramjattan expressed his surprise that the government would act in such a manner over a project that was years in the making. The government has repeatedly stated that the US should suspend the project until a compromise was reached on its design of the project. The US decided to go ahead with the project due to the support received from the other stakeholders, including the private sector and the opposition. In February US Ambassador Brent Hardt had told Stabroek News that since it was a budgeted programme contracts had already been signed and deadlines had to be met.