The new cabinet’s size represents duplication and waste

Dear Editor,

Re: ‘Ramotar adds few new faces, ministry to cabinet,‘ (SN, December 6), President Donald Ramotar did say that his cabinet will be comprised entirely of PPP/Civic members, except for the Prime Minister who came in on the new Civic arm in 1992 and Bishop Juan Edghill’s appointment to Minister within the Ministry of Finance. Can the President say who the other Civic members are and when they became Civic members?

All the other members of Mr Ramotar’s cabinet have been around in some capacity in the previous administration, so this cabinet does not represent change; it represents mediocrity and continuity of the same old PPP hardline nonsense that has Guyana in the hole it is in.
And does he really need 20 ministers to augment his lack of executive leadership experience and skills? Since he has no personal track record running any successful big business, the least he could have done was to reach out to some other Guyanese at home or abroad with proven executive and senior management experience. He is starting out with a minus on his report card, as this massive cabinet size represents duplication and waste.

I won’t even waste time questioning Mr Edghill’s ministerial credentials in the religious community, because that is an issue between him, the accreditation body and God. What I will question are his academic qualifications and professional experience that recommend him for a ministerial post in Guyana’s Finance Ministry.

Can he or the President or anyone name a reputable company in which Mr Edghill worked as a senior finance and accounting manager? Or is this yet another political award for political loyalty?

Separately, other than being former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s personal attorney and a PPP MP, what exactly are Mr Anil Nandlall’s credentials that qualify him to be named Attorney-General? Is President Ramotar telling the nation that this is the best of the legal crop in and out of Guyana?

Mr Nandlall’s poor legal judgment in allowing Mr Jagdeo to proceed with his libel case against KN columnist, Mr Freddie Kissoon, resulted in a huge, embarrassing political explosion as testimony from the plaintiff’s lead witness exposed the Jagdeo administration as discriminating against Africans. Both Messrs Nandlall and Jagdeo suffered irreparable damage.

Other than his handling of Mr Jagdeo’s libel case, what other known landmark court case has he handled successfully in or out of Guyana? What about his legal writings that law students can peruse? What about public presentations on any range of legal issues? Only the PPP can see merit in such a man being named AG.

Unless someone out there knows something of legal significance that recommends Mr Nandlall for this post, there can only be one logical explanation. In keeping with the PPP’s practice of promoting and rewarding political loyalty over proven leadership, Mr Nandlall’s appointment may actually be the precursor to being named a Senior Counsel.

Stung by the revelations in the libel case, Mr Jagdeo went on the campaign trail attacking Mr Nigel Hughes, lead attorney for the defendant, and claimed that Mr Hughes has been lobbying for a Senior Counsel (SC) conferral, but that he (Jagdeo) would never confer such an honour on Mr Hughes and he doubted whether a President Ramotar would.

Well, since previous AGs were also SCs, then it may be just a matter of time before Mr Nandlall is named a Senior Counsel by the President.

Petty thinking, but it is par for the PPP course. Still, what is the status of the Jagdeo-Kissoon libel case? Can the AG function simultaneously as personal attorney to Mr Jagdeo? If not, then can the AG take up the case in his new capacity? If no again, this libel case may be over.

Now, what can we say of Minister of Works, Mr Robeson Benn, on whose watch several government-funded infrastructural projects, as catalogued by Kaieteur News, were fraught with corruption and poorly executed at a huge financial loss to taxpayers? His lone claim to fame is that he breaks down faster than he builds up, so to retain him means political loyalty trumps proven leadership.

Next up is Robert Persaud. Known for his boyish grin and outlandish spin, he may well be being groomed for the presidency in the event Mr Ramotar steps down unexpectedly or is not the party’s candidate in 2016. His meteoric rise from newspaper writer to liaison officer in OP to e-MBA recipient to Agriculture Minister to now Minister of Resources and Environment must be part of his political gobbledygook to the presidency.

Space would not allow me to analyze the others, but Home Affairs Minister Mr Clement Rohee, must be the luckiest senior PPPite around. How he got and retained this sensitive job after Ronald Gajraj screwed it up and Gail Teixeira tried to straighten it out remains a conundrum in local political circles. That the Guyana Police Force remains politically and criminally compromised speaks volumes about his true purpose there: maintain the status quo of the force for political reasons.

You know, Editor, I am beginning to get this feeling that ‘the PPP eyes really pass Guyanese’ to be insulting us again and again with these absolutely ludicrous appointments. I did congratulate the President and hoped he could get down to the task of nation building, but judging from his cabinet appointments, it is like déjà vu.

Hopefully, the combined opposition would put aside real or perceived differences and work together to keep this administration in check, starting with this whacky cabinet of 20 ministers. After all, more Guyanese voted for APNU and the AFC than they did for the PPP, so the combined opposition must hold the President to his word when he said there must be a greater role for the opposition in government.
Yours faithfully,
Emile Mervin

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