By Abena Rockcliffe
Guyana would have been much better off if the leaders of the current People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration had policies similar to those of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Maybe, if the political ministers of Guyana knew that they would have been sanctioned for inappropriate behavior; corrupt practices would not have been so rampant in this dear land.
That is the view expressed by Member of Parliament, Joseph Harmon when asked to comment on the T&T Prime Minister’s method of running her tight ship called Cabinet.
Harmon told Kaieteur News that the PPP government, which has been in power for over 21 years, should emulate the attitude of Persad-Bissessar.
This past week saw the resignation of yet another Trinidadian Minister, Anil Roberts. The Former Minister of Sport’s resignation came after severe pressure was placed on him to do so.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, who has been described as a no-nonsense leader, has been cleaning out her Cabinet of officials deemed unfit. The majority of casualties were as a result of corruption.
In announcing Roberts’ resignation last Thursday, Persad-Bissessar told Trinidadian media operatives that she continues to be “disillusioned, disappointed and distressed by the level of deception and dishonesty associated with the well intentioned Life Sport programme.”
The programme fell under Roberts’ portfolio.
In late May of this year, Persad-Bissessar announced that she had moved the controversial Life Sport programme from the Ministry of Sport to the Ministry of National Security.
At that time she had told the media of her intention to instruct the Ministry of Finance to conduct a full audit into the programme.
The T&T Government has so far spent over $150 million (T&T dollars) on the programme, which the Ministry of Finance has discovered to be riddled with irregularities.
Last Thursday, Persad-Bissessar said that at just the “hint of corrupt practices,” she ordered that the independent audit be conducted.
She said that after the findings of this audit were made available, she instructed that the report be sent to the Acting Commissioner of Police, the Integrity Commission, the Head of the Public of the Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.
“But even as we await the finding of these independent institutions on the matter, the usual duties of the Minister of Sport are being burdened with the mounting controversy and questions surrounding the LifeSport programme. I have given careful consideration to the rapidly emerging issues and have resisted quick judgment and rash decision. The election of this government has changed the political landscape. The expectation of the public that something will be done when wrongs are committed in public offices is (sic) now the hallmarks of good governance. Consequently, I have decided to accept the offer of resignation as Minister of Sport from Mr. Anil Roberts.”
Persad-Bissessar said that she advised the acting President of Trinidad and Tobago, Timothy Hamel-Smith that with effect from July 31 (Thursday last) that the appointment of Anil Roberts as Minister of Sport be revoked and that Dr. Rupert Griffith be assigned the responsibility for Ministry of Sport in addition to his present duties as the Minister of Science and Technology.
Yesterday, local Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon pointed out that there have been several cases in Guyana where Ministers were found to be acting in a manner not in keeping with what is expected from a Minister.
He said that there are cases of Ministers who have committed offences on the streets, have lost the confidence of the Opposition and the Guyanese people and have blatantly disobeyed the law.
Harmon said, that he really does not know how many of the current Ministers would be left if they were to be fired for corrupt practices or other inappropriate behaviors.
But he said, “I do know that if the PPP was to follow Kamla’s style they would have been very short of Ministers.”
He said however, that government Ministers do not have to worry about that because “PPP don’t get rid of Ministers.”
In fact, Harmon said that it seems as if those Ministers who misbehave are held on to the longest or are promoted, to maybe Ambassador or General Secretary.
In addition, Harmon said that “even if they are no longer Ministers, they get a ministerial salary forever and ever…probably the only exception is Henry Jeffery.”
An unprecedented 11 Ministers have been fired since Persaud–Bissessar took office less than four years ago.
In March the Prime Minister orchestrated the revocation of the ministerial appointment of Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh. He was the Minister of the People and Social Development.
Ramadharsingh became the subject of negative attention following allegations of disorderly behaviour on board a Caribbean Airlines flight from Tobago.
A 12th Minister, Jack Warner, left of his own volition amidst allegations of financial impropriety.
In May 2011, Mary King became the first Minister to be dismissed following allegations of conflict of interest in the award of a contract.
Next in line was Minister in the Ministry of National Security Collin Partap in August 2012, following allegations that he refused to take a breathalyser test after leaving a nightclub.
One month later, then Justice Minister Herbert Volney was given the boot, for allegedly misleading the Cabinet over the Section 34 fiasco.
Apart from having a specific infraction leveled at them, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has also fired Ministers for apparent non-performance. In these instances she gave the vague reason of Cabinet re-organisation.
In June 2011, Subhas Panday, Minister in the National Security Ministry, was relieved of his portfolio in the first Cabinet reshuffle, along with Therese Baptiste-Cornelis and Nan Ramgoolam. They were all senators and were replaced by Devant Maharaj, Verna St Rose-Greaves and Nicole Dyer Griffith (who was a parliamentary secretary).
By the next reshuffle in June 2012, St Rose-Greaves was out, along with John Sandy and Dyer Griffith. In came Jamal Mohammed and Marlene Coudray.
Mohammed’s appointment was however short-lived. He was fired in September 2013 and replaced by Gerry Hadeed.
In September 2012, when Volney was fired, Christlyn Moore was appointed.
Moore’s appointment was terminated in September 2013 when Gary Griffith was appointed National Security Minister.
Griffith replaced Jack Warner who had resigned in April of that year and was temporarily replaced by Emmanuel George.
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