PPP confirms G$34M contract with US strategists
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has confirmed that it contracted the Mercury Public Affairs firm in Washington, United States to push its political agenda there.
At a press conference Wednesday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said the firm was paid G$34M – monies he said were obtained from donations.
When asked about the duration of the contract, Jagdeo said the company was retained for a “limited period” but later added that the PPP will decide at the end of May whether to extend the contract.
It is reported that the contract was signed on March 7 between Executive Secretary of the PPP, Zulfikar Mustapha and the company, Mercury Public Affairs.
Jagdeo, who recently returned from a visit to the United States, said his party “badly needed” a presence in the State of Washington to counter the “lies APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) been telling.”
He told the media that the strategists firm was hired not just to assist the PPP with campaigning but also “on our presence in Washington ensuring that our views are heard by the US policymakers at every level.”
“That is a critical part,” he added.
The Opposition Leader pointed out that the State houses several agencies including the Organisation of American States (OAS) and others which the PPP needs to maintain access to.
Jagdeo said the Government has permanent links to these bodies through its Ambassadors.
“A lot of the opinions formed in Washington, including the multilateral financial institutions, the OAS and of course the US Government, could be tainted by the lies APNU been telling in these areas or the misrepresentation of issues,” he said.
Following the disclosure of the contract, several questions were raised about corruption allegations against the company in the US.
Reuters in an article on April 12 named Mercury Public Affairs as among two Washington lobbyists which are being probed for their work with the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine.
But Jagdeo said the PPP is “very happy” with the firm and the fact that it has not been closed down by US Authorities should be sufficient.
“We’re very happy with the firm, we’re happy with its credentials, we’re happy that the firm is a bipartisan firm, both democrats and republicans,” Jagdeo told reporters.
“I’ve reviewed their work, they’re a very effective firm and that’s what we need, an effective firm to counter the lies being told by APNU in Washington,” Jagdeo added as he noted that the PPP is getting value for its money.