May 30, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – There is some more to that headline “Guyana’s poor systems spell disaster for oil money” (KN, May 25). There is more that could be added to the story underlying that caption, which conveys so much of what is wrong here. We make a start with the laments of the Auditor General, and then move on to other areas. Yet even as we do so, there is the full realisation, a haunting one, that the story of Guyana would still be largely incomplete. It is because there is so little being done in response, with the result that so much more is left hanging, and which doesn’t look likely to move in the least from that suspended state anytime in the near future.
The Auditor General does not like what his office reviews, where the trails lead, what they confirm. It is that in numerous ministries and other departments of the state, there is this casualness towards, this subtle resistance in, taking the bull by the horns and bringing about improvement. Audits are done, with many gaps and more deficiency uncovered, and yet there is seeming indifference to take action by those in charge of ministries and other government offices, be they in the capital city, or deeper in the Administrative Regions.
The annual audit reports point to rampant corruption and procurement breaches across ministries and regional departments, and the action taken to remedy is a yawn and a shrug. The result is that it is the same dirty business, as usual, and the same revealing audit reports year after year. According to the Auditor General, the recommendations of his office to “improve systems and practices for governance and accountability are not acted upon” for the most part.
The Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, said that 76% of his recommendations were not fully implemented with many of them repeated each year. That’s 3 out of 4 recommendations acted upon in some halfhearted, or slipshod, or don’t give a damn manner. No business, individual or partnership or corporate or state, can operate for too long like this, and still remain a viable entity, a going concern. The only place such a business would be going is downhill, and straight into the deepest part of the gutter. And this is precisely what has occurred in government office after government office, and with much wastage and losses incurred.
Who is in charge of such agencies? Who is awake and alert, and driving the bus of the people’s business responsibly, and with some degree of dignity and self-respect? Why are those senior officers that are in executive management positions in those defaulting state entities still on the job? And where are the political leaders, who are responsible for selecting and appointing them? What are they doing? It is frustrating and dispiriting that 55 years after National Independence, we are in the same place as Day One; maybe in an even worse place than where we started out post-Independence.
We at this paper have a few things to say, and they are largely based on the questions from the last paragraph. We agree that poor systems not fixed, but repeating themselves in the same or poorer shape annually, are part of the problem, and could be the death of our hopes. But there is more to it, than just that alone. We believe that poor leadership, chronically compromised and handicapped political leadership has to bear the brunt of the responsibility for where we are, what has been done (or not done), and what all this means for the future.
It is the same poor and pathetic political leadership, in one government following the next, that speaks powerfully about cleaning up and whipping things and people into shape, only for the same poverty in processes and results to happen again and again. Our leaders are among the best in talking a good game, but they are yet to deliver on anything of substance. They have failed at the little things, such as delivering ultimatums to Heads of Department and Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners of this and that: get moving, get improvements. Or get out. Get going and deliver; or get ready to be kicked out. This has rarely happened, which means the celebrations of corruptions continue. What can they do with this oil treasure of ours? It is what the Auditor General presented to the whole world. Are leaders listening?
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