In a statement on her Facebook page, Ms Walton Desir noted that “the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on December 28, 2020 entered into a six-months Agreement with Cormac Group LLC to provide lobbying services on behalf of the Government and by extension the people of Guyana.”
She said the Contract was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ms. Elizabeth Harper,” indicating that the agreement was entered into on behalf of the people of Guyana.
The Shadow Minister said “in keeping with our promise to hold the PPP/C regime accountable, on Friday January 15, 2021, I submitted the following questions to the Clerk of the National Assembly, for written reply by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
”The following are the nine questions posed by the Ms Walton Desir to the Clerk of the National Assembly, seeking answers from Foreign Minister Hugh Todd.
- Can the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs provide the criteria used for the selection of the Cormac Group LLC?
- Can the Minister map the various foreign policy scenarios that informed the choice of this specific firm?
- Can the Minister indicate the procurement process utilized to hire Cormac Group LLC?
- Can the Minister indicate whether other firms/ groups were considered, the names of those groups/firms and indicate also the considerations which gave Cormac Group LL.C the competitive advantage over the other firms/groups?
- Can the Minister indicate to what extent will there be overlap with the functions of foreign service personnel, particularly personnel in Washington D.C?
- Can the Minister state whether our Mission in Washington D.C is equipped to adequately represent Guyana’s interests? If it so, why did the Government deem it necessary to hire Cormac Group LLC? If not, what are the actions being taken to equip the Washington Mission with the required resources?
- Given that the terms of the contract indicate that representation is being made on behalf of Guyana, can the Minister say what reporting mechanism has been established to inform the people of Guyana on the progress with the tasks assigned (save those with national security implications)?
- Given that the Legislature is a branch of Government, what mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that the Opposition Parties in the National Assembly are engaged in this process with Cormac Group LLC?
- Can the Minister undertake to update the Foreign Relations Sector Committee on Quarterly basis on the progress made by the Group?
Demerara Waves quotes the filing with the United States (US) Department of Justice, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), as indicating that "Guyana is paying the Washington DC-based The Cormac Group LLC US$25,000 per month and reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses of up to US$4,500 per month. The contract is for six months expiring on June 28, 2021," the Demerara Waves article said.
The Cormac Group has agreed to, “inform key members oft he U.S. Congress, especially those with interest or responsibility for Western Hemisphere affairs, trade, and economic development, about the importance of increasing US cooperation with the Guyanese government, and thus contribute to democracy, stability, and prosperity in the region.”
The agreement was signed on December 28, 2020 by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Elisabeth Harper and James Link of the Cormac Group. The new contract with Guyana describes Otto Reich Associates as a joint venture firm with The Cormac Group.
Under the accord, Link and Jose Cardenas of the Cormac Group, and its joint venture partner Otto Reich Associates, LLC, will oversee activities relating to this engagement. Services and related decisions will be determined and conducted in close consultation with the Guyana Embassy Washington and such other designated officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry appointed within one month of the execution of this Agreement.
The two firms teamed up last year to lobby for the International Center for Democracy, a New York outfit close to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in the presidential race pitting PPP candidate Irfaan Ali against incumbent President David Granger. Mercury Public Affairs also lobbied for the PPP until last July.
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