OPINION: The Guyana Government is taking a breather

  Mar 17, 2021  Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom – Kaieteur News

The Irfaan Ali administration began its term on turbo charge. The first few months saw things moving at a hectic pace.
All around work was being done and it appeared as if the PPP/C was in a hurry to make-up for the five years that it was out of office.

Some people complained about not receiving water for years. And simply because that also involved over the past five years, the problem was immediately fixed. People complained about the poor condition of roads and they were fixed. We were told that the backlog of house-lot applications had been cleared. If you drove around the country, you would have noticed road works taking place at fast clip. There was a mad rush to get things done.       

The minister responsible for sport was visiting a number of grounds. The people in Agricola and Buxton benefitted from works done to upgrade the sports ground and through the distribution of sports gear.

Things have changed. It appears as if reality is now stepping in and the government is now slowing down. Or it is simply catching its breath for the next burst of economic development.

The APNU+AFC also started in a blitz – cleaning blitz, both the city and the Augean stables were cleaned. But then things began to stagnate, and it appeared as if the Coalition had a President with a lot of good and useful ideas but he did not have a good team around him to implement those ideas.

It takes more than one person to effectively run a government, something that yoked the PPP/C between 1999 and 2011. When authority is centralised it can constrain development. But even more limiting is when there is not the means within the various sectors to implement what is planned and what is needed.

The PPP/C has some problems which will need to be ironed out if it is to sustain the pace of development by which it hopes to honour its Manifesto promises. There have been some appointments which have proven to be wrong ones.

But unfortunately, PPP/C Presidents in Guyana governments have never been keen to make Cabinet changes since this often suggests some form of underperformance. One junior Minister has been feisty and exceptional in discharging ministerial duties and ought to have really been a senior. While a senior minister has been virtually invisible throughout the government’s term so far and does not seem to be an ideal fit in the Ministry assigned.

There remains concern about the President being the substantive Minister of Finance. Under the Constitution, once a MInisterial portfolio is not assigned, it is said to be held by the Head of State. It is unheard of for Guyana not to have a Minister of Finance apart from the President. Dr. Ashni Singh is substantively a Senior Minister in the Office of the President. The President should not be holding the substantive post of Minister of Finance. And one wonders what is the attraction, given his own heavy workload, that he would not have appointed Singh as the Minister of Finance.

There are some Ministers who really have come back but should not have come back from the last government. And there are some who are new and who are looking on from the sidelines.

The PPP/C promised a great deal on the campaign trail. And they did not anticipate the pandemic and the five-month election impasse.
But the decision-making process also appears to be part of the problem. It is more than seven months since the government was established and up to now there has only been a few names mentioned about Ambassadorial appointments, and those names have raised controversy. By now these appointments should have been dusted and done by the Foreign Ministry.

It is hard to understand what is taking the Government so long to announce these appointments. It is not good for the country that new appointees have not yet been named for the critical postings in Caracas, Paramaribo, Havana, Beijing, Brasilia and London. Names have been hinted for Washington and New Delhi.

If the pace of development is to hasten, it is important that Guyana has capable persons in these capitals so as to take care of the country’s interest. The President also needs to look at some of those within his Cabinet and within the public bureaucracy who are not performing and to make the necessary changes. This is no time for deadweights.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Kaieteur News newspaper)

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