President Granger addressed Parliament last Thursday. Don’t take my word for it; read the speech yourself. You cannot find one, I repeat not one idea that is transformative, novel and that breaks with the lacklustre leadership we have had since Desmond Hoyte lost power in 1992.
Granger recapped what his government did. A cynic can say he omitted what his government did not do, and one of the things his administration missed is introducing transformative changes for the three and a half years that he and his Prime Minister have been in power.
For example, he reminded the Assembly that an Ombudsman has been appointed. The existence of the office of the Ombudsman without legal power to bring about redress to victimized citizens is one of the most sickening idiocies in this country, and no leader should remind the nation that there is an Ombudsman, because in doing so, he/she as president is telling the country that he/she is satisfied with the nonsense that inheres in that office.
The Ombudsman is a constitutional office staffed by a retired senior judge. The person gets a fairly good salary. What is the role of the Ombudsman? It is essentially a check on illegal and unconstitutional use of state power. Its main function is to investigate such power to see if the state was a violator of the rights of citizens while they served as employees of the state. The Ombudman’s jurisdiction is limited to the public sphere. I honestly don’t know if the office has the authority to receive complaints from private sector employees, although a case from a victim from the private commercial financial house, NBS, was entertained.
So let’s see; a policeman, soldier, nurse, public sector teacher, municipal worker etc., complains of wrongful dismissal. The Ombudsman rules the termination illegal. That is the end of the matter. The particular state sector cannot be forced to reemploy the person. That particular state sector can completely ignore the findings of the Ombudsman and they normally do.
What exactly is the power of the Ombudsman? How real is that power? How does that power translate into action?
Before I leave this section of the president’s parliamentary address, why would the Commissioner of Police order an inquiry into a constable’s misconduct at a station when the constable could ignore the findings?
Nowhere in the speech was there any reference to the enhancement of the freedoms the Guyanese people yearn for. The President totally left out the recent caricature where the state and the teachers were in conflict over salaries that went to arbitration. In an ugly digression from tradition, the Granger administration unilaterally chose the arbitrator. When you factor into the situation that the Prime Minister’s wife has over forty years as a teacher, then you cannot but cynically dismiss the presidential outing at parliament last Thursday.
The president went through a list of imminent legislation, but none contains transformative thinking. It would surprise you to know that the PPP Government had on its legislative agenda, amendment to the 1933 law governing divorce. That law requires one of three reasons to be cited before a divorce can be granted. The amendment would have brought in a no fault section. Of course the PPP lost power in 2015. Don’t ever think that this ‘fit and proppa’ government we have, in the conceivable future, would have a no fault divorce Bill which most modern, democratic countries have.
The part of the speech for me that was laughable, and no amount of words I can acquire can convey my cynicism, is the promise of no squandering of oil money. Let me be pellucid, so this column can be cited in the future. The Granger/Nagamootoo administration is characterized by wasteful spending, and I predict there will be profligate use of state revenue from oil if this regime is in power after 2020. I believe the same will happen under any PPP government with the Jagdeoite cabals still in charge, but the APNU+AFC leadership is a wild user of state funds.
There is wasteful spending of money taking place under this administration that is heart-breaking. At no place is it more appalling than at UG. Granger knows that. Granger knows a huge sum was spent on billboards around the country with the face of the Finance Minister boldly informing the citizens that the national budget is coming.
It is a real sad state of affairs that will visit this country in the year 2020. It will be a contest between two failures – the PPP and APNU+AFC. One hopes the new Amerindian party and a new third force deny them outright victory.
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