In response to spurious claims and malicious reporting by the Kaieteur News team of developments at an inspection visit yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture has released a statement condemning the unfair attack of the media house on the ministry and minister.
The ministry asserts that, in light of the article, ‘Minister Persaud backpedals on agri inspections – abandons media team; contractor seeks to frustrate Kaieteur News’, of the Kaieteur News dated Saturday August 15, 2009, it is clear that the media house is, beyond a shadow of doubt, on a campaign to ‘go after the Minister of Agriculture’ as opined by several observers.
The Kaieteur News (KN) team reported of being abandoned by the Minister and frustrated by the contractor and technical team. This, the ministry stated, is part of a sustained attack by KN and other pro-Opposition media outlets, and is a contravention of a major tenet of journalism - the principle of fair and accurate reporting.
The ministry held that the KN team, in its report of the field visit, omitted or twisted certain facts:
1. The visit was not requested by anyone; rather, it was proposed by the Minister himself as part of his recent campaign to get all stakeholders, particularly farmers, involved in the monitoring of agriculture projects. This is indicative of his unprecedented drive for ensuring value for money and beneficiaries’ participation;
2. The Minister was the first to arrive at the worksite, having commenced the journey to the inspection tour site before 05:00 h.
3. Minister Persaud was not scheduled to be with the monitoring party for the entire duration of the activity, but he spent close to five hours touring the sites and interacting with stakeholders;
4. During a media briefing at one of the project sites at the Parika/Ruby Backdam following hours of inspection to other sites, the Minister questioned whether any member of the media wanted to opt out of the inspection activity and be transported back to Georgetown. He stated that those who wished to remain would be accommodated. The KN and Evening News teams opted to continue on the inspection activity and were adequately taken care of;
5. Minister Persaud, owing to the exigencies of his job, could not stay on for the full duration of the activity and did not want to limit the media inspection to the time he could spend. Instead, he encouraged continued inspection by the media, and ensured that the Ministry’s technical team was on hand to facilitate the media in his absence; and
6. It was the KN team that urged that the activity be terminated before all project sites were visited.
The ministry posited that perhaps the KN team, not being able to find fault with the state of the project, the dispositions of stakeholders, the number of works executed within the project framework, and the ministry’s resolve to improve conditions for all members of the agricultural fraternity and the wider Guyanese citizenry, felt the compulsion to present its version of the reality.
The ministry informed that, notwithstanding the barrage of negative reporting of KN – something that seems to be a policy position of the media house – it will soon be arranging other inspection visits to other project sites, and all stakeholders and media houses, including KN, will be invited.