By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell

Noting government is amazed by the spending power of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), newly appointed Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, has said the government has taken interest in the party’s $10M per month hire of the American firm Mercury Public Affairs to represent its interest in Washington and to ensure that it regains political power in Guyana.

Newly appointed Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, shared this view during a post-Cabinet press briefing held today.

During the engagement, Guyana Standard asked Harmon whether the government has taken note of or has any concerns over PPP’s hiring of Mercury Public Affairs.

Harmon said that the government noted the development with interest.

The former minister told the media that the PPP is free to “decide where their interests lie and if they want to be represented anywhere in the world; that is their business. But, when the purported activities of the company is going to address matters internal to Guyana that is likely to affect the stability of this country and the way in which people are dealt with on a daily basis, then certainly it is something we take very keen interest in.”

Harmon said too that the government is not unaware of the Mercury’s track record.

He said, “We have heard about companies like this and the impact which they had in the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and the UK with Brexit. It is not something we take very lightly.”

Harmon went on to state that the government is amazed at PPP’s spending power.

He said, “It is amazing that the PPP can actually fork out [$31M] just like that. It is a big sum and that is just a deposit.”

Harmon said that that based on his knowledge about how such arrangements like the one PPP entered into work, the $31M is only an upfront payment.

He said that as the company “performs” more money is paid.

“So that could very well be a 10 percent. I am not sure, but based on how I know they work, you do not pay everything upfront; they probably have some more money to pay and I think that the Guyanese people will be looking very carefully at what this company is doing in so far as peddling influence,” said Harmon.

The contract between the PPP and Mercury was signed on March 7, 2019, and comes to an end on June 5, 2019. Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, had told the media that when that time comes, the PPP will decide if it wants to continue with the firm or not.

At a press conference two weeks ago, Jagdeo told the media that PPP found itself on unequal footing in Washington. He said that the APNU+AFC government has representation there and is peddling lies while the PPP had nothing in place to counter those lies.

Jagdeo said too that the PPP was concerned with the image being painted to international bodies, such as the Organization of American States (OAS). Therefore, Jagdeo said that the party agreed that it would be best to hire Mercury Public Affairs to essentially promote the PPP in Washington.

Jagdeo told the media that he knows the firm to be very effective and is confident that it will be able to deliver on those functions. Paying over $31M already for just a few months, Jagdeo said that he is sure the PPP will get its money’s worth.

But, what Jagdeo did not say was that the firm also has a responsibly to somehow ensure that the PPP gets back into office.

The contract seen by Guyana Standard says that the “principal aim” of the American company is to ensure that PPP regains power in Guyana.

This is the same company that was implicated in US Special Counsel Robert Muller’s probe into Russia’s interference in America’s 2016 elections in favour of Donald Trump. Trump is now the President of the United States despite the odds he faced. Mercury was also fined for breach of US laws.


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