THE PRIVATE SECTOR NEEDS STRONG AND FEARLESS LEADERSHIP
The Private Sector Commission recently found itself in a ticklish position. On the very day that it elected a new Chairman, it was reported in the media that the said individual was no longer employed with the company which he had previously represented on the Commission.
The question that arises was why this should have posed an impediment to the individual still remaining as Chairperson.
If his election was based on his recognized leadership skills, then the mere fact that he was no longer employed by a major private sector firm should not have posed a need to revisit his election as Chairman. He would not have lost those skills.
If on the other hand, his election was based on the fact that he was seen as representing a major corporate giant, then his resignation from that firm would have presented some difficulties. But it has now been revealed that the very firm had not broken ties with him and in fact had indicated to the Private Sector Commission that he could still represent them on the Commission. So why was there any need at all for the issue of his Chairmanship to be re-looked at?
While the elected Chairperson has indicated that it was he who took the decision to step down as Chairman, it is left to be seen how many of the other leaders of the PSC will ask him on a question of principle to rescind this decision. Even if he had no longer enjoyed the confidence of his former company- which is not the case- he is a private citizen and one that is qualified and with a proven track-record of leadership and achievements. There is therefore no justifiable reason why he should not head the country’s representative private sector body.
This whole episode also raises an important issue. What is the basis both in terms of the constitution of the PSC and otherwise for electing a Chairperson? Does the person have to be employed within the private sector? Does the person have to represent a company on the Commission? Or can someone from within the private sector but not representing any firm on the PSC be eligible to be the Chairperson?
In other words is representation based on personal ability or does the critical defining criterion for election as Chairperson to the PSC related to the organization that one represents? Or is it both personal abilities and representative status?
The other related question is whether at all it is conceivable that the President of the PSC can come from a small business within the private sector of Guyana or if it will continue to be the case that the Chairmanship is reserved for the large corporate giants?
This question is important in light of individuals continuing to make strides within the economy. These businesses and individuals will want some assurance that the Chairmanship of this most important body is not reserved for the big giants in manufacturing, commercial or services sectors but that one of their members can one way hold such office.
It is important that this issue be clarified because the private sector needs forceful leadership today. The private sector of this country is facing serious problems.
There are divisions within the private sector even though this may not be publicly admitted. There are concerns, for example about the emergence, of new oligarchy in the economy, one that can sweep away old businesses.
There are also political differences within the private sector. As the representative body for the private sector in Guyana, the Private Sector Commission wields tremendous influence. As such, all the parties in Guyana would very much like to have the private sector in their corner.
Paradoxically however, the PSC underestimates its own influence. The PSC has reacted very timidly to the Budget cuts instituted by the opposition parties.
These cuts which aggregate to over twenty billion dollars represent a serious loss of business to the local private sector. But typical of the private sector in Guyana, it did not come out and strongly condemn the cuts. It merely said that the cuts would affect business and called for relations to be improved between the government and the opposition. This is typical fence- sitting.
Now that there is a need for a new Chairperson of the PSC, how about identifying someone who is fearless and who is prepared to call a spade a spade; someone who does not mince his words but someone who has the ability to build confidence on all sides of the political divide?
Surely such a person can be found within the ranks of the private sector. The question is, will that person be given that chance?