Kaieteur News – The President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana must desist from making impulsive criticisms of officials, public agencies and, now, the country’s financial sector.
His recent outburst against a state-employed engineer was premature and intemperate. Instead of reacting to hearsay reports, the President should do the right thing: commission an impartial investigation into the allegations, and based on the findings of that investigation, take the necessary steps.
In the absence of such investigations, public criticisms of public officials are unbecoming. And this is made all the more worse by not affording the accused party the right to a hearing.
There could be many reasons why what was supposed to be done was not done. It could well be the case of unanticipated circumstances. It could well be because of supply chain problems. For example, traffic lights, for the Sheriff-Mandela roadway, have not been installed as yet because of delays in shipping. The weather has forced delays in the number of infrastructural projects. And in the increase in building materials has forced cost overruns.
Those being accused must therefore be afforded a hearing. But more importantly accusations must not be levelled unless and until all the facts are known.
Of equal concern is the fact that an engineer cannot be held accountable for the failure of any public works. It is ultimately, the subject Ministry which has to be held accountable.
And if it ever comes to a stage where a Ministry faces public censure from the President, then by convention that subject Minister should consider his or her continued involvement in the government.
A few months ago, a Regional Health Officer was publicly humiliated after the President allegedly received a report about drug shortages. The proper thing to do was to have the matter investigated, and if anyone was in dereliction of duties or negligent, then that person should pay the price after due process. It could well have been that the information which was received by the President was not accurate. The truth is best determined by an impartial investigation.
The President’s eagerness for public works to be completed in time, within costs and within the specifications is understandable. His administration has been moving at break-neck pace to execute public works. But he, better than most, should not expect dramatic changes overnight. He ought to know about the supply-chain constraints, the slothful bureaucracy and, most importantly, the limited absorptive capacity of country.
Despite these constraints a great deal is being done. Water treatment plants, wells, housing developments, bridges, schools and other infrastructure are being erected across the country. Things are moving and when things are moving at break-neck speeds, a few slippages are to be expected.
The President himself is not immune from such slippages. He did promise nine months ago, a Democracy Award for those who defended democracy in Guyana. That promise is yet to be fulfilled. The long-touted Single Window for traders is apparently still under construction.
Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Private Sector Commission, the President is reported to have said that the banks are hopeless in customer care and customer handling. Well, they ought to be. Banks are not in the care business so they cannot be expected to be involved in customer care. Nor are banks into the freight business, so they are not required to be ‘handling’ customers. But everyone will agree that more can be done to improve customer service and customer satisfaction.
The criticisms made of the banking system are unwarranted. Most of the requirements which banks impose on their customers are of the government’s making.
It was the PPP/C, which in 2009 initiated Anti-Money Laundering and the Countering of the Financing of Terrorism Act. That legislation has now morphed into laws which impose stringent demands, including evidence of proof of address and source of funds for depositors.
Unlike what the President believes, banks have made tremendous progress in e-banking services. Persons can now pay bills online, transfer funds from one account to another online and check their account balances online. Point-of-sale services are employed by many businesses and wire transfer payments can also be made overseas.
As for that individual who had to fill up a load of forms just to withdraw G$25,000, that person would have been better advised to use the ATM service provided. He or she would have had the transaction completed in minutes, as many do each day.
(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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