Since coming to office in May, it has been seven months of mixed fortunes for A Partnership for
National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) administration. Opinion has generally been divided about their performance, with some accusing government of “pussy footing” on national issues.
Several independent observers also expressed their view on how Government has performed and their sentiments are very similar; that the administration has made missteps along the way, has not acted with fortitude and moreover, that any ministers with questionable characters, must be removed from Cabinet.
Presidential candidate in the May 2015 General and Regional Elections, Mark Benschop, is one such observer. He acknowledged that many Guyanese welcomed the change when it came, as it represented a “breath of fresh air”. He observed that as they are now settling in, there would be different perceptions from Guyanese.
Benschop identified the retroactive salary increase, which Government Ministers and other members of the National Assembly were given in September, as the biggest mistake the government has made since coming to office.
He said that what was worse was that they went ahead with the increases, despite the general population expressing themselves against it when it was first floated.
Benschop also expressed disbelief in the fact that after seven months in office and numerous disclosures of public officials who committed wrongdoing under the previous administration, there have been no arrests.
He stated that the average Guyanese is tired of the “back and forth” between the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the Government, with one side asserting that it has incriminating evidence and the other side telling them to go ahead and institute charges, if this was so.
The politician made it clear that if they did have evidence they should move ahead regardless of who the accused personage might be, as the Guyanese people would like to see swift justice.
Benschop also commented on President David Granger’s personal performance. He noted that the President seems to want to ensure that the Government’s commitments to the people are kept, and that Government business is conducted in a balanced manner.
However, he warned that there is a perception in the general populace that senior ministers around Granger are showing who they really are- square pegs in round holes. In view of this, Benschop stated that the time may come for a Cabinet reshuffle as the government approaches its one year anniversary.
He expressed the hope that, should that time come, those “non-performing ministers” with “questionable characters” will be removed.
Political and financial analyst, Ramon Gaskin, also weighed in on the topic. He rated the government’s performance as “disappointing”. There is much they have not done or dealt with satisfactorily.
The administration has failed to appoint ambassadors to England, Brazil, Canada, India and China, he said. He noted that these are countries of major world and economic standing. Thus, Gaskin questioned what could be the reason for such a delay.
He pointed to other delays, such as putting in place a “Board of Directors” at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and the “Guyana Civil Aviation Authority” (GCAA).
In the case of GPL, Gaskin observed that despite this being one of the biggest Companies in Guyana, there have been some “nasty” revelations that have tarnished the management of the Company. He referenced the misconduct of former GPL Chief Executive Officer, Bharat Dindyal; former Deputy CEO, Aeshwar Deonarine; and former GPL Director, Carvil Duncan.
In the case of the GCAA, Gaskin made it clear that the authority does international work. It is mandated to act under set international guidelines. He observed that it did not bode well that the absence of a Board at the authority, has not been corrected.
Gaskin described both the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), as “disasters”, considering the accusations being leveled against its top officials.
In the case of NICIL, its Chief Executive Officer, Winston Brassington, has been under a considerable cloud as the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) has zeroed in on several questionable financial transactions he has reportedly perpetuated. The allegations against him have even drawn the attention of international anti- corruption bodies.
As for GGMC, the Chairman of the Board, Clinton Williams and the Commissioner, Rickford Vieira, have been implicated in several instances of wrong doing. Williams is under the microscope for purported abuses of his office and privileges, while Vieira has been sent on leave, but under a cloud.
The analyst stated that the government has still not dealt with Chinese logging giant, “BaiShanLin” in a condign manner. He stated that in addition, with the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) costing millions of dollars every day in production, the nation needs to see the report.
Instead, he said, the nation was hearing about the report being read by Government at a Cabinet retreat.
Regarding job creation, Gaskin queried whether the Government and Finance Minister Winston Jordan could attest to having engineered any initiative that has resulted in job creation, aside from the new Guyana Police Force (GPF) recruits.
Going into the New Year, Gaskin made it clear that these are all matters the Government will have to deal with.
Kaieteur News also sought the opinion of someone straddling both nationalities. Fifty-seven-year-old George Osbourne-Hinds is a United States-based Guyanese observer, who last visited in August of 2015.
He said that following the results of the May 2015 General and Regional Elections, everybody was excited. Hinds stated that once the euphoria subsided, everyone went back to their way of life. And then the troubles started.
Hinds observed that the raise of pay did create a storm both in the US-based Guyanese community and Guyana, because it was perceived as much too early for the government to have a raise of that magnitude. The excuse that was used was not acceptable.
He also observed that as early as August, he had paid a visit to Guyana and the general feeling was that since the new government took over, money was not flowing. Because of this, he said, a lot of people became disenchanted. He observed that the curfew was another sore issue, which upset both party goers and business people.
In addition to the curfew, Hinds pointed to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). He noted that much rests on the perception of the welcome visitors are accorded as soon as they step out of a plane. He queried what message is being sent to visitors when they come to the airport and beyond, and they do comparisons with other countries.
“I would like to see our airport modernized,” Hinds said. “Why should visitors come on a tarmac and walk to immigration?”
On the traffic situation, Hinds noted that the roads cannot keep up with vehicles. He observed that there are vendors all over the city and when the congestion becomes unbearable, it opens up opportunities for unsavory characters to rob citizens.
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