Kaieteur News – Yesterday, an image appeared on social media of the President and the Vice President attending what was described as a virtual 22nd Special Meeting of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community. The image showed only the two of them at a long table.
Where were the officials of the Foreign Ministry who should be there to advise the President and to ensure follow up action? Even if we assume that they were zoomed in from another location, they ought to have been present in that same room.
But this is the type of cake shop style of governance that is taking place in the country in which the President and the Vice President attend certain meetings without any support staff in attendance. This is Stone Age governance, not modern day governance.
And just what was the Second Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo doing at that meeting? His responsibilities are supposed to be natural resources and the environment. So why was he at a meeting when one would have expected the Foreign Minister, or in his absence, the acting Foreign Minister to be in attendance? And where was the Foreign Secretary?
What image is Guyana presenting to the world by having the President and Second Vice President attending a conference of CARICOM and the support staff are either absent or zoomed in from another location.
The days of the Superman leader who knows it all and does it all has long passed. Such a management style is not associated with modern governance but rather with leaders who may be insecure and who wish to hog decision-making.
In Guyana, there is the appearance that decision-making is being confined to the top echelons of government. And this is a sure recipe for incompetence and disaster.
The concentration of decision-making in the hands of a few persons is not how modern governments work. This is stone-age governance which is going to always see Guyana trying to catch up with the rest of the world rather than moving forward.
A country today simply cannot be run like a cake shop. The world is too modern, and the issues too complex and technical to be mastered by a few leaders acting alone. Micromanagement is sure to result in mismanagement.
Cake shop management in the past saw Guyana retrogress. Decisions which should be made urgently are delayed where there is such a style of management. Many years ago, Guyana was almost sanctioned because it took too long to pass legislation relating to money laundering and the countering of the financing of terrorism. Micromanagement also will place the country in perpetual fire and we will always be in a fire-fighting mode rather than ensuring forward thinking and planning.
But even more appalling was what took place in the Sugar Belt while the President was in Barbados. The Second Vice President went into the sugar areas and announced that the government would be paying the sum of $250,000 to each severed sugar worker.
This is not as strange a decision as it appears. The government may now have realised that it cannot honour its Manifesto pledge of reopening the sugar estates closed under the APNU+AFC and therefore it is seeking to appease the former sugar workers.
But such a pay-out cannot be a substitute for a plan to revive the rural economy which is in tatters as a result of the closure of the sugar estates, the pandemic and the devastating floods of this year.
The government has no answers as to how to reopen the closed sugar estates. They once railed against a suggestion by Granger for private input into the sugar industry. They accused him of wanting to privatise the sugar industry. But their solutions are no different, except that the Private Sector involvement which they were counting on does not involve the production of sugar.
But what was amazing about the $250,000 grant was the manner of its announcement. The President has not indicated that Bharrat Jagdeo is a super-Minister. So why should he have to go into the Sugar Belt to make such an announcement? Why steal the Minister of Agriculture’s thunder? Why was he not allowed to make that decision?
The public should demand to know whether this proposal went before Cabinet or whether it was part of the Stone Age decision-making process. Such an important decision should have been exhaustively debated within Cabinet. Was this done? Had there been the usual post-Cabinet briefing, as in the past, such questions could have been asked.
The country will pay a terrible price for cake shop style of management. As I mentioned in these pages years ago, our political leaders need to realise that things need to be done differently.
If Guyana wants to become a modern developed society, it has to dump traditional ways of doing things. Cake shop management is not suited to a modern day economy.
(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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