Kaieteur News – There is an old saying in Guyana. “You cannot put a little boy to do a big man’s job”
What is being exposed each passing day in Guyana, is the total inability of certain Ministers of the government to cope with the demands of governance.
Many of them are being thrown into the deep end of politics and when it finally dawns on them that what is required is above their ability and experience, they are resorting to photo opportunities as a means of indicating that they are active.
What Guyana needs is not active Ministers but effective Ministers. Persons who understand their responsibilities, who appreciate their limitations and thus are prepared to utilise the talents of experts and those with knowledge in the various sectors and ministers who are honed in the principles of ministerial responsibility and are prepared to be accountable for their portfolios.
There was once an incident within the Burnham Cabinet in which a Minister, who is now still active in politics, was asked about an incident by the then Prime Minister.
The Minister replied that he did not know about the report. To which the Prime Minister informed him that it was his duty to know.
It is also the duty of Ministers to understand the political process in which they operate. They are first and foremost servants of the people, placed there not to enrich themselves or to boost their egos through the respect people have for their office; not there as some would say, “to pamp a scene” but to serve. And, to serve means to have a plan and to be able to execute that plan. But building a plan does not mean simply cobbling projects together; it does not mean that the job is simply about spending money.
It is about the use of limited resources to maximise the gains. It is about proper stewardship of the nation’s finances. It is about primarily working with others, not trying to do all the work yourself.
There used to be a time in this country when senior public officials were given tremendous respect. Today, because of the mediocrity that passes for governance in Guyana, everything revolves around the Ministers. You have to see a Minister for this and a Minister for that.
The Ministers are simply involved in too much and this means that too much depends on the consent and approval of Ministers, thus stifling creativity and imagination and crippling effective management. When it comes to accountability, the measure of this seems rooted in the belief that so long as accounts are presented to the Auditor General’s Office for examination, that accountability is being served.
However, there remain major concerns in Guyana as to the manner in which projects are conceived, the value that taxpayers are gaining for money, the high incidence of deviations from original contract prices and the quality and effectiveness of supervision and oversight of these public works.
While a great difference can be made with simple adjustments, there is a need for an urgent revisiting by the ruling elite of this philosophy of elevating inexperience and immaturity to high offices.
The art of governance relies less (than most people think) on technical ability in the specific areas and more on political acumen, and more importantly on character.
Particularly in a country like Guyana, which has a divided polity, what is most demanded are persons of moral fibre and who are experienced and matured to be able to deal with some of the problems that will face them in office.
There are more challenges relating to the perceptions by the polity of the effects of government policies than there are about finding the managerial resources to execute government contracts.
In the case of the latter, what is required are persons of character; persons versed with an internal belief system and who are committed to that belief system.
What invariably passes as qualification for high office in Guyana is party affiliation, despite many of those so fortunate to be selected not being committed ideologically to any cause.
This ultimately leads to sterility of thought and action, thus an increasing reliance on personal ability.
When, as in so many instances in Guyana, ministers lack this ability, when the system of government becomes overcrowded with persons without real talent to run the country, what we have is a disaster in the making. An unsalvageable situation exaggerated by the lack of alternatives occasioned by the brain drain and with the ultimate consequence of having to ask little boys to do the work of big men.
(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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