Cabinet is responsible for decisions by Ministers – AFC
As the fallout continues over Muri Brasil Ventures Inc receiving permission to conduct surveys in the “sensitive” south eastern New River Triangle area, arguments are surfacing over the history of the more than a year old company. Questions are also being asked about Cabinet’s responsibility in relation to the issue and the Minister’s power in signing off, in this case, on a deal opposed by fellow Cabinet members. Opposition Member of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan has stated that despite the claims of Cabinet via its secretary they were not keen on exploration in the disputed New River Triangle Area, Cabinet is equally responsible for the decision made by the Minister. It was reported last week that former President Bharrat Jagdeo, during his last term in Office, despite the non-agreement by several Cabinet members pushed for the exploration of the controversial area. Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud, has been identified as granting the newly convened Muri Brasil Venture Inc permission to conduct reconnaissance activity in the area. Under the country’s Mining Act (1989) Section 97, the Minister is empowered to grant Permission for Geophysical and Geological Survey (PGGS). This does not exclude Cabinet from bearing responsibility for the decision made. “The fact that the Minister entered into this agreement questions the collective responsibility of Cabinet which is very much involved in the concept and doctrine called collective responsibility; for actions or criminal actions of a Minister. They can’t say they don’t know,” Ramjattan stated. Ramjattan reiterated that (while certain sections of the society are stating nothing sinister), his party in particular remains suspicious of permission being granted for the survey permission because of the non-transparency from Government on the development of the project. A GGMC executive member said that the agency had advised against the granting of the PGGS to Muri Company but the Minister had ordered that the company’s application be processed. The publication was told also that several locals would have applied for permission to conduct activities in the area, but none was granted; raising questions as to why local miners were not given a chance to access less controversial areas, while the new company was granted permission in a sensitive location; near the Guyana/Venezuelan border. So far, little has been disclosed about the Muri Brasil Ventures Inc except that it is interested in conducting a survey here and further developing that particular area. Some have questioned, further, the expertise and financial capabilities of the money for this area, but GGMC sources say that is irrelevant until the company reaches a stage for a mining permit. Controversy also surrounded a clause where the company is allegedly guaranteed a prospective licence following survey of the area. Ramjattan said that it is understood that this company is guaranteed that right. The Minister has stated however that that is not the case since like any other company; Muri has the right to apply for prospective licence following the reconnaissance stage.