In Guyana, as in many other countries, good and transparent governance does not simply happen. It is important that the people recognize that good and transparent governance requires honesty, accountability and hard work and the building of appropriate skills and competencies.
There must be an investment in ensuring that responsible personnel are supported with the capacity-building and required material for the practice of good governance.
Many would agree with this perspective, but unfortunately, this is not always so. During the tenure of the former administration, there were too many untold stories of board members, chair persons and Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of state agencies and corporations who were appointed not because of qualifications, experience or skills but because of political affiliations. This widely accepted practice which also exists today is not good for Guyana. In many instances political influence sometimes trumps good policies, transparency and accountability.
As a result, the conflicts that usually ensue in such cases within the board of directors or between the CEO and the Chair Person often result in mismanagement and inefficiency.
In the past, although nominations and appointees to the various boards proved to be fit and proper persons, many times they did not have the skills, qualifications or competence to advise the government or adequately manage or supervise personnel. There are anecdotes of board chair persons and CEOs who were only interested in wielding their power to illegally authorize the use of finances and contracts.
This is a woeful practice which proves that tougher guidelines are required to manage the affairs of state boards.There must be alternative ways to facilitate the selection and training of board members toprovide effective management to all public agencies.
Under the former government, most state agencies were found to be corrupt and many including the Guyana Energy Agency are still corrupt. The recent controversy generated at GPL concerning the secret tape recording and the alleged forging of qualifications by its former Acting CEO should not have only led to his dismissal but also a complete overall of its policies. The government should make sure that the policies and guidelines of all state agencies and corporations are very clear.
Ambiguity generally leads to poor management and corrupt practices as is currently the situation at GPL whose former Deputy CEO ran away with G$27 million.
However, there are qualified and competent persons who serve on the boards of each State agency and corporation. Given the modern complexity of good governance and public scrutiny by this newspaper and others, every chairman, CEO and member of a State board must be qualified to meet the demands of the public.Board chairmenand CEOs are mandated to contribute to good governance and proper management of state agencies, all of which must be aligned to government policy.
In the scheme of things it is the reason why they report to respective ministers of government on matters relating to strategic development and fiscal management of state agencies. Given these current parameters, no chair personsor CEOs of a State board is independent.
Notwithstanding, a board’s best protection against competing interests is managing its risks to include a diversity of informed opinions, and making transparent decisions and be accountable.
In this way, the country will see better and transparent governance, thereby improving the accountability of all state boards and corporations which, in turn, will result in better-quality performance.
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