Kaieteur News – A person by the name of Everton Morris published a recent letter in the newspapers headlined; “GRA has one of the largest inefficient bureaucracies.” Under his signature, he described himself as a “technology management executive.”
Mr. Morris also informs readers that he is a remigrant. He has advanced a series of technological directions that in the modern age of the 21st century, Guyana ought to follow. Obviously, coming from a developed country, Mr. Morris has seen how paperwork has disappeared, replaced by technology.
It is pushing an open door or displaying lack of commonsense to argue against the application of technology in bureaucracy. The world is run by technology in almost every sphere of life. Technology plays a colossal part in crime-fighting in modern societies.
Mr. Morris’ delusion (I hope not but I think so) is that he believes if we embrace modern technology, bureaucracy and service will achieve prodigious efficiency. He is being informed by what he saw in advanced industrial nations. But Mr. Morris needs to understand that state of the art technology and science will not improve the services Guyanese receive. Perhaps being away too long and not being a sociologist, Mr. Morris doesn’t know Guyana.
To understand why the internet and its limitless scope will not make for greater efficiency, Mr. Morris has to analyze Guyana’s demographics. In terms of state relation with the citizenry, this country has a very, very small population. Out of 780,000 persons, half of that number is below 18 years of age. What does that tell you? That the pressure on the state and private sector to provide service is almost non-existent?
Why? Because those 18-year-old people, because of their age and lack of business involvement or employment, have zero relation with the Deeds Registry, NIS, GRA, Central Housing and Planning Authority, Lands and Survey, the government ministries etc. So, in effect, those institutions named above have to deal with a modicum of citizens. Yet there is hardly a modern service for this tiny number.
The impeccable examples are NIS and UG. Based on Guyana’s demographics, the over-65 section is not a large number. Of the numbers of persons in that over-65 category, quite a decent percent do not seek old age pension because of either status or wealth. This leaves you with a tiny group of people to serve. But NIS hardly serves them. The paperwork in relation to this group is nightmarish. How do you explain this aberration?
Before we answer that, let’s go to UG. In 2011 when my contract was terminated at UG, there were about 520 staff members – academic and non-academic. Yet not one person who joined the staff received their first pay cheque before four months. That is still the pattern in 2020. We come to the answer.
Even if you put the fantastic technology Mr. Morris is talking about at NIS and UG, the
over-65 group will not be served and new UG employees will still have to wait four months for their first salary. The answer is psychic breakdown. There is collective psychic breakdown in this land that has smothered those who lived here since the dictatorship of the Burnham government and those born since.
Since the death of Burnham there have been episodic moments of modern thinking and modern service. I have been a beneficiary of that – I pay all my bills at a SurePay outlet. But using the holistic perspective, Guyana’s collective psychic breakdown has become deeper and more extensive since 1988 when President Hoyte began to de-Burnhamize Guyana.
If this country put 20 police ranks to deal with the return of bail money from applicants whose numbers are 60, meaning each rank serves three persons, the applicant will still have to wait for months. If this country puts 20 teachers to teach 60 students, the students will still wait months to get exam results as is the case at UG. How will technology improve the delivery of service? It cannot, because the problem is not technological but psychological.
To discuss the sadness, tragedy and dangers of the theory of psychic breakdown in Guyana will certainly take scores of columns. I hope Mr. Morris does not get me wrong. If he reads this, then he shouldn’t. I am certainly not against the application of modern technology in this land. It is indeed an exigent requirement.
My simple theory is taken from medicine. You cannot continue to treat the symptom and ignore the cause of the disease. The disease will continue to ravish the body. I hope for the best. But let’s us all face the reality of what Guyana is.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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