Jul 25, 2021 News
By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – This week I present two encouraging matters and, unfortunately, have to go near to one that troubles.
It is a source of pride to read that Dr. Kishore Persaud and his team at the GPHC performed what is termed this country’s first international kidney transplant surgery. The receptive and thankful beneficiary is a Grenadian doctor. When I recall that another Guyanese doctor spearheaded a pioneering brain procedure a little while back, and right at the GPHC, it encourages as to the things we can do and the heights to which we can go, when our resources are marshaled and put to the best use possible. When that is done, a patient or family can benefit, as it is on this occasion; when the same is done with the nation’s resources, revenues, loans, and projects, among other things, then parts of Guyana benefit; and, when this is continued at the same industrious, skilled, and committed levels, then all Guyana benefits. This successful kidney transplant confirms a couple of things. First, it is that there is so much that we can do, when we put our minds to it, by starting on the right foot, with the right visions. And second, it is that, despite our relative national youthfulness and our still limited resources, when we do challenging things the right way, we usually succeed. To the GPHC officials from the minister down, and to team: well done! Congratulations! To the recovering patient: best of health, extend the blessings.
The second uplifting development was from the NIS. It is an institution that has absorbed an abundance of blows: complaints of poor service, taxpayers’ and beneficiaries’ frustrations, denouncements from involved and uninvolved citizens, and general dissatisfaction. But a government exercise led by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, and the NIS General Manager, Ms. Holly Greaves, delivered some praiseworthy news (“Close to 11,000 NIS claims now resolved, KN July 19). I think that deserves a big hand. A bigger one will come when that commitment made by Dr. Singh to reduce the backlog of outstanding claims to zero is delivered. It would be a wonderful day for longsuffering NIS recipients, old or new. The key would be to maintain that state of zero backlogs, so that citizens can move in and out of NIS offices and be dealt with expeditiously regarding their pensions, disabilities, and medical benefits that are due. I think that a great deal of energy was harnessed to make the backlog inroads recorded so far be a reality. A word of appreciation is extended to General Manager Greaves and her team from the NIS, as well as Minister Singh. Again, let’s just get the job at hand done, and done well.
I would like to continue along these positive lines, but life has its dismal side, and it must be faced. On Tuesday last, we learnt from KN of “Hundreds of millions of old age pension payments unaccounted for at GPOC” (KN July 20). As the report from the Audit Office attests, this situation is spread over a number of years. It is a lot of money and too many years for this to remain unresolved. I note that this Auditor Office finding was first documented in 2016; it is disturbing that the issue (unaccounted for state) seems hanging or unaddressed. If accurate, this wastes extensive and costly state audit efforts. The GPOC’s PRO pinpointed ‘revolving imprest’ and to work with Audit Office and ministry to resolve, which I welcome.
Still, I would ask: of what use are these revealing audit exercises, if reports fester largely unattended? The second is this: is government (old or new) truly serious about cleaning up troubling business, and setting the stage for what is acceptable? It would be irresponsible on my part, as disgusted as I am, to say: let’s stop playing these games and going through these audit motions, for all the use made of them. Guyana is poorer for it. Made into bigger losers, too, wherever they occur, when left languishing.
(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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