May 30, 2015 Editorial
The celebrations are about over. The inauguration has been complete. People must now settle to the real job of transporting this country to the land of potential it is touted to be. Indeed, to hear the people talk about their great expectations one would feel that these people had been living in mediocrity all their lives.
In fact, most of the people would tell anyone that they had only a clear knowledge of the recent administration and that they felt that a change was needed. Today people say that they expect the new government to do many things that were supposed to be part of everyday life in Guyana.
For example, people expect high standards in the public service. They had been living with a politicized public service to the extent that the Permanent Secretaries actually left their posts to join the political campaign for one political party or the other. This was never the role of the Permanent Secretary.
People also directed matters of public service concerns to the headquarters of the political parties. Now the wider society expects this to change. Further, the new President has promised such a change. In his words, he would be preparing a professional and unbribable public service.
But that is only a part of the great expectations. Many people, who were denied their just deserts because of the perception that they had been supporters of one political party or the other, now say that they should be compensated.
First among them are those mothers who believe that the state institutions caused them untold suffering. Of immediate interest are those mothers whose children died in the care of the hospital or health centres. For most of a year at least two of them have been seeking a report from the Ministry of Health. None has been forthcoming.
These mothers are now turning to the new administration, and with good reason. If the new administration is coming in with a promise of good governance then it must provide answers to the grieving mothers.
Let us not forget that there were people who felt that they were beholden to no one; that they did not have to account to anyone for anything. This attitude spread right through the public service, from the top to the bottom. Pretty soon managers were unable to control the junior staff, so entrenched is indiscipline.
The expectation is that the new administration would be able to collect the various medical reports. Having done that, it would have to make such reports regular features in keeping with standard public service practice.
Perhaps the greatest expectation is that the new government would bring to book those who would have pilfered state assets and funds. The wider society is sure that it knows the culprits. And many people in the system who have been compiling duplicate records of illegal transactions have made these available. Now these people expect prosecutions and even incarcerations.
All over the world, and almost daily, one sees public officials being sentenced to prison for acts of corruption and illegality. It is as if such behaviour is the norm in developing countries. There is a lot that suggests that there were corrupt officials. For example, there is the wealth accruing to people who prior to becoming public officials were just ordinary people who were no more than lower middle class Guyanese.
The records of the Integrity Commission would make for interesting reading. But even more, the Guyana Revenue Authority is perhaps in the best position to assess the status of those public officials. This is perhaps the reason why there are so many nervous people around and those making charges of discrimination against the new government even before it has settled into office.
For too long, people have been allowed to pay scant regard to principled behaviour. Why else would a serving Government Minister threaten a woman with physical violence in the full glare of the media? And why would the Guyana Sugar Corporation threaten to close its doors as soon as the new government takes office without even discussing the issue with the principals?
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