I began to suspect, shortly after the attempt by the new Vice Chancellor of UG in 2016 to rent a Georgetown building for $6 million monthly, that David Granger was beginning to show his true colour, meaning that he had no idea of the nature of the political economy of Guyana.
As UG acquired an administrative structure that per capita was one of, if not the largest in the in the entire world, in a country with a small population, a poor economy, and a mere 5000 students and 250 staff members, and as extraordinary sums were spent on form and not substance, I was becoming more and more convinced that Granger was not the man to lead Guyana.
As the post-2015 regime at UG settled into office, and extraordinary pools of money went in directions that did not benefit Guyana as a country, its tertiary educational system and UG itself, my mind was made up; Granger’s leadership was a disaster for this country. This newspaper carried two items recently. One informs the nation that under this new vice-chancellor, total salary of a small group of senior UG functionaries takes up 180 million dollars. And secondly, $400, 000 was spent on a dinner circumstance for 8 persons.
The last three years at UG cried out for governmental intervention and for one fundamental reason – the money that nourished this extraordinary journey into monumental expenditure came from the Treasury, not private organizations and foreign governments. It was obligatory by the state to ask if the money was serving UG and Guyana. For three years, Mr. Granger saw this misdirected journey but remain unmoved. How do you explain this?
When my contract was terminated in January 2012 by the Ramotar presidency, a protest group was formed named Operation Rescue UG, which staged industrial action. The group invited then Opposition Leader, Granger to meet. Here now is something I never wrote about. He came with an aide, stood almost motionless and listened to our complaints. This was a learning experience for me. Granger displayed no emotion and appeared almost disinterested. My strong impression from that meeting was that this was a man who lacked leadership skills.
We still have to explain why for three years Granger allowed the situation at UG to take the ugly shape that now engulfs it. He knew about the huge bureaucratic structure. Any examination of this structure within the context of the student and staff numbers would reveal that Guyana’s only university does not need such a colossal administrative system.
More importantly, a deception game had entrenched itself, and the Government of Guyana was simply not interested to confront it. UG has announced over a dozen new degree programmes over the last two years, the latest being a degree in psychology but never published is the list of professors and their qualifications to run these new programmes.
Essential to note is that UG’s salary scale is way below even tenth-rate universities. So where are these professors coming from? Weeks ago, UG declared that it can only offer a three percent increase to its academics. Surely, someone in government should have possessed the moral quality to ask – then what are you offering the lecturers of these new programmes and do you actually have them.
This is the sad state of Guyana and you have a president that shows no leadership qualities. The people of Guyana have to stop the self-fooling that they been swimming in since Granger became president. It goes like this – ‘oh, the man is beyond corruption, the man is honest, the man is a decent leader’. But the man is not a leader, he is not leading Guyana, and it appears that he lacks the essential qualities to lead a poor, complicated polity that Guyana has always been and still is.
Guyana’s economy could not have sustained the wild financial acts of the Jagdeo/Ramotar cabals. Prodigious sums were badly used, of which the most repugnant example was a country with a very modest tourist industry built an expensive Marriott Hotel where given the numbers that arrive each year, the present hotel structure could have catered for them. Valuable money was thrown away on the Amaila Falls road, the Skeldon factory, and investments in CLICO.
Against our underdeveloped economy, any new government would have been careful on how scare resources were used by the state. But Granger’s reckless spending matches those of Jagdeo and Ramotar. My conclusion is that like Jagdeo and Ramotar, he is happy with the way the state spends money, because he cannot see the ideological flaws in neo-liberalism. I doubt he can.
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