GEORGETOWN, June 19, 2021 - Guyana’s Parliamentary Opposition is very uncomfortable with the government’s establishment of a new unit in the Guyana Defence Force called the Regional Support Team which Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon says is ill-defined and unnecessary.
The parliamentary opposition were taken aback when it was revealed in the National Assembly that the Government was in the process of establishing what it characterised as a “Regional Joint Support Team” as a part of the Guyana Defence Force, and was seeking nearly $250-million to operationalise it.
Harmon, a former GDF Officer, questioned the expenditure and was told by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, that the Regional Joint Support Team was a new initiative decided on by the Defence Board in April.
Teixeira said the initiative involves both the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and aims to develop operational capacity in crime fighting. She said that the $249M budgetary allocation caters to the resources they need to be established and to function.
The Opposition questioned the need for separate uniforms for the team, in addition to the rental of additional buildings all over Guyana as if the government had no faith in the efficacy of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and decided to establish a separate force loyal to the administration.
Harmon observed that “this unit, according to Minister Texeira, will be building a new building at Eteringbang on the Venezuela/Guyana border. Refurbish a building at Eve Leary. No structure is provided but the unit will have uniforms and other equipment. Over 32 vehicles along with ATVs.”
He said “all of these are independent of the GDF or Police budgeting. This secret unit being established by the PPP clearly shows that they do not have confidence in the Army and Police to provide security for the state.”
According to Harmon, “many citizens have drawn similarities to the Phantom squad which operated with impunity under the previous PPP regime led by Bharrat Jagdeo, leaving thousands of deaths and massive destruction in its trail.”
“I have taken note of a release from the Joint Services on the issue but the release does nothing to quell the fears and suspicion of the Guyanese citizens who lived through the troubled times under Bharat Jagdeo Presidency,” Harmon declared.