Nov 19, 2023 Letters
I’ve recently received a call from a friend living in Guyana, questioning if I will be assisting in organizing GuyExpo this year. I took pains in explaining the following to my goodly friend that I was happy that the current administration has recommenced the staging of this event and I’m sure that it will be immensely successful.
Notwithstanding, I could not help but reflect on my late friend Mr. Percival Boyce, GuyExpo’s Coordinator during the years I’d served as co-Chairman of this national exposition, and the yeoman service given towards the success of this initiative. I would like to take this opportunity to express how deeply sad I was upon learning of his death. As former chairman of the Organizing Committee, I would say without fear of contradiction, that my late friend was the main force behind the successful staging of this event for many years. He effectively implemented the decisions of the Organizing Committee and never failed in carrying out these responsibilities. The late Mr. Boyce was the consummate professional, extremely dedicated and committed to his work. In fact, this was reflected in his organization of GuyExpo’s cultural programme (supported by the late dynamic committee member Mr. Cultural himself- Lennox Canterbury), which promoted local entertainers and was arguably one of his most successful and memorable contributions.
I could write a book on the experiences I’ve had as co-Chairman; however, I will focus on a few memorable ones. For context of this first instance, during one of the staging of this major trade exposition, I had learned that the Ministry responsible for organizing this annual event did not have the financial resources to stage the event that year.
This was brought to my attention by the late coordinator who indicated that the financial recourses generated from this event was managed by the subject ministry and not the Secretariat. As then co-Chairman, I had successfully lobbied the former President Dr. Bharat Jagdeo to advance the committee $20M with a commitment that we will make a profit of over $50M.
You see Mr. Editor, I could have given that commitment because the late Coordinator and I had done some groundwork, which revealed that in the absence of an Accounts Payable Account, it was difficult the ascertain the authenticity of the bills/invoices submitted for payment after the conclusion of the event; needless to say, these were all honoured by the late Mr. Boyce in his capacity. This shows the professionalism and temerity of the man who served in this critical position.
In an effort to enhance accountability, I facilitated the donation of three computers (with a user- friendly accounting software installed) to the Secretariat and recruited three youths who were trained in the use of the accounting system (by another very dedicated gentleman Mr. Linden Anderson who sadly has since died). The late Coordinator, who supervised this team, also ensured they were educated on all the aspects associated with staging the largest annual national event held in Guyana pre-2015. The ability to recognize and fulfill the needed capacity building was priceless and arguably served them well during the execution of their stint and, by extension, the GuyExpo.
With this team and efficient system in place, we implemented a Local Purchase System (no expenses could be initiated if an LPO was not generated) during the planning and execution of this event. I, along with the then Minister of Tourism, conducted daily inspection visits where we’d received updated copies of the Accounts Payable schedule for review and discussion with the coordinator. It was the prudent oversight by Mr. Boyce and our team that resulted in the Organizing Committee’s ability to not only repay the $20M advance granted to the committee (in 2006) but achieved a profit of approximately $46.3M on the last night of the event that year. Additionally, for all the subsequent years of coordinating the event, the organizers knew the “profitable status” on the last night of the event. It’s worthwhile, to note that all financial resources generated are used to support the programs of the subject ministry. including funding the secretariat.
One year I recall Mr. Boyce’s quick thinking and pro-active intervention in averting what could have possibly been a major accident waiting to happen. While on a site visit a day before the exhibition was officially scheduled to be opened (I cannot remember the year), I’d noticed a merry-go-round carousel from the rust that was obviously on the parts of this equipment, and it was clear that it was not adequately maintained. On the advice of the late Mr. Boyce, we’d invited the owner to a meeting where he was told to service this children’s ride. Further, the owner was told that he will not be able to operate said equipment without the appropriate insurance policy for the functioning of this type of equipment (the necessary inspection was also conducted by knowledgeable technical personnel). As fate would have it, during the third night of the exhibition, I was in my late colleague’s office when we heard a loud bang; the sound came from the direction of the ride. We’d rushed to the area which was in darkness. Honestly, the first thought was that children were seriously injured; both my late friend and I were expecting the worst.
But God was overlooking his children, only two kids were slightly injured. We ensured that they had received immediate medical treatment. However, their parents did not accept our offer to have the two children transported the hospital for further medical examination. After some consideration, the Coordinator and I agreed to effect a monetary payment on the request of the family members of the children directly affected by this incident. Needless to say, this ride was never used again for the remaining years that I was co-Chairman. Mr. Editor, it is this type of soundness of character and professional integrity that is etched in my mind when I think of Mr. Boyce and his contribution to the success of this national event.
I also fondly recall the night the Expo had over 50,000 attendees and the difficulty the late Mr. Boyce and I found ourselves trying to hold the gate on the far north of the exhibition site with approximately fifty persons pushing on the other side trying to get in free. We were about to give up when we’d noticed the crowd dispersing. Apparently, word got out that Paul Slowe was approaching. We were never so happy to see a police officer. These are some of the memories, which I’ll always treasure of my late colleague and the hosting of GuyExpo.
I am sure that the investment in this event will be significantly greater than in previous years. This is important since the late coordinator (and the government) were aware that GuyExpo not only showcase Guyana business (small, medium, and large) but booths from other countries were also facilitated (as far as India). While the large turnout to this event, served as a vehicle to educating Guyanese and foreigners on the business opportunities and new business ventures. One of the late coordinator’s qualities that I really admired, was his willingness to participate in any activity (outside his scope of work) that would further enhance the success of this event. The Organizing Committee was very interested in ascertaining the positive impact this event had on the participating businesses. The late Mr. Boyce and the committee member with the technical expertise in marketing (mainly exports) lead an exercise initiated to periodically follow-up with businesses (especially the small and medium) these exit surveys were to ascertain sale increases primarily due to new customers (both local and overseas markets) joint ventures etc.
It is for these reasons I am advocating for the current GuyExpo Organizing Committee to consider honouring posthumously the memory of this true son of Guyana, Mr. Percival Boyce, former Coordinator of GuyExpo.
PNC demanding answers for smuggled chicken early Sunday morning after church!
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