Government loses confidence in Persaud

Guyana Chronicle
December 19, 2002

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HEAD of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday admitted that he did not follow due procedures in firing the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Bal Persaud, and said steps are being taken to remedy the situation.

Luncheon, however, maintained the Government's position that it has "lost confidence" in Persaud and indicated that although the administration does not have a problem with Persaud's stewartship of the EPA, it has a problem with the way he manages the agency's Wildlife Division.

"Some of the confusion that has arisen along with the actions taken by the Office of the President on the tenure of the Executive Director of the EPA, we would need to point out that the contention and the conclusions arrived at, at Cabinet, that the administration has lost confidence in the Officer is one that remains," Luncheon stated.

According to him, the "subsequent details on disengagement - such details have generated concerns about procedures and due process (and) the initial interventions by the Secretary to the Cabinet (himself) were indeed inconsistent with Cabinet's conclusions, and steps are being taken to remedy that situation".

"The Cabinet's conclusion was unambiguous - it has lost confidence (in Bal Persaud). The dispute occurred and the procedure to implement the disengagement - this is where the dispute arose - and it was indeed confirmed at Cabinet that the procedures initiated by the Secretary to the Cabinet were inconsistent with Cabinet's understandings and that those matters would have to be rectified," Luncheon told reporters at his regular post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the President, Georgetown.

Responding to a question about whether Mr. Persaud was still on the job, Luncheon said he is not certain, but hastened to point out that he sees "no reason in the context of the rectification in that interim for him not to be on the job".

Regarding the issue of the administration's loss of confidence in the EPA's Executive Director, Luncheon said: "Perhaps it is not unmindful that this matter might well go further than merely the loss of confidence declaration by the administration and the subsequent efforts at disengagement. Merely to, in a very general way, indicate that the gentleman/officer had been tasked with certain responsibilities dealing specifically with Wildlife and its administration and during his stewartship, the administration has had to suffer a number of indignities including fraud, including the loss of an extremely lucrative market (overseas) for our exporters and other unresolved matters. It is on that basis that this issue of confidence arose which ultimately led to Cabinet's decision."

"The Bal Persaud issue and Cabinet's pronouncements on the `loss of confidence' has not been in the context of his stewartship of the Environmental Protection Agency. We are dealing here with a responsibility that uniquely was given to (Persaud) manage and administer the Wildlife Unit by the office of the President," Luncheon added.

It is understood that Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, who represents Persaud, has maintained that his client is going to work because Luncheon has no authority to dismiss him.

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