Kaieteur News – It was never meant for bureaucratic laws to be cast in cement. Context is everything in life. There are times when regulations within certain contexts have to be approached with reason. I don’t believe there was ever a time in the history of this country when presidents Forbes Burnham, Cheddi and Janet Jagan, Sam Hinds, Desmond Hoyte, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar stepped out from the president’s compound and went back in half an hour later and the security detail at the gate frisked them and asked for ID.
I was behind then Vice Chancellor, James Rose, when he entered the UG library. Everybody entering the library has to show their UG Identification. The guard didn’t ask me or Dr. Rose for our identification. It was extremely foolish to do so because the guard knew Dr. Rose was the head of the university and knew who I was. That is called flexible bureaucracy.
The Registrar of UG and I were personal friends when we did our first degree in history. It has been over 40 years that we have known each other. Why can’t I contact the Registrar, then the Registrar sends a slip to the accounts department verifying that I could be paid my pension because I am alive? The same for Vincent Alexander. For five consecutive months Alexander has been all over the news from March to August. Why can’t he make a call to the Registrar for his pension to be verified?
Do you know only seven categories of persons can sign a UG pension form? Do you know UG was born since 1963? Here are the seven categories – notary public; commissioner of oaths; medical practitioner; head teacher, minister of religion, superintendent of police and bank manager.
Vincent Alexander was the UG Registrar for 20 years and never saw the need to get rid of that colonial relic even though I brought it to his attention. This is the same Alexander who is Guyana’s second greatest admirer of Guyana’s first anti-colonial president – Forbes Burnham. Do you know only those seven categories can sign an NIS pension form? To think we have been an independent country since 1966.
Here is a vivid example where something inexplicable has taken over the collective psyche of this nation and has destroyed its people maybe, permanently. I always had a very cordial relation with Bernard De Santos even when he was Attorney General. One night at UG in 2008 we had a big quarrel in which I made a painful accusation against him.
When UG was founded in 1963, the statues recognized the trade union but excluded the trade union from sending an academic to represent academic staff at the Appointments Committee. Only a clerk or a typist could do so. I brought up this madness at one of the statutory meetings of the Council requesting it be removed. Only Bernard opposed it saying that the university’s founders knew what they were doing. They didn’t and the Council amended that particular statue there and then.
So after hundreds of years of being a backward country, the NIS has saved Guyana. It has discovered modern civilization. But we have to praise the NIS even though it came late. The NIS has introduced a simple, technological and modern way of submitting the pension form. You can now do so through a video call. There are six cell numbers you can call, and the NIS person will see you, take your data and do the necessary input.
So who in Guyana doesn’t know Adam Harris? So Adam can make the video call and bingo – his data is put into the system. It is now up to UG to do the same. But strange enough, it wasn’t UG that offered this modern facility. UG as most Guyanese would know has a technology faculty and offers a degree in computer science.
For sure, more of this thinking, like the one that NIS gave Guyana, will come. The question is when? Do not rely on the commercial banks to do it. And why? Because leadership is the problem in this country. This is where Dr. Irfaan Ali comes in. He has 10 years to change this country for the better. I know from a brief conversation with him he was not satisfied with the un-modern ways the commercial banks treat customers.
I am not sure the banks, insurance companies and NBS will change the anachronistic way of doing business. They have to be pressured by the leadership of the country. I do not admire Burnham but there is no way Burnham would have allowed his government’s regulations to be ignored by the commercial banks.
(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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