Why the reticence about Raj Singh’s experience in the sugar industry?

One imagines that the Minister of Home Affairs must be reflecting on his comparative recklessness in duly publicising summarised competency profiles (with photos) of the members of the civilian task force appointed to oversee the implementation of the much touted Police Reform Project, particularly when he contrasts his relative transparency, with the assertive reticence of his senior counterpart, the Minister of Finance, about the eligibility of one Raj Singh for the revived position of Executive Chairman of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

It is as if the latter were insisting that a ‘fair’ balance must be maintained between his admitted ignorance of the workings of the sugar industry, and the denial to the public of their acquaintance with, or appreciation of, the qualities of the most important executive decision-maker outside of the formal governance structure.

Attentive observers, and particularly those more familiar with the sugar industry than any Minister, can attest to the fact that, apart from its endemic technical and operational problems, the organisation is debilitated by a chronically anaemic communication process – which gives rise to too many industrial relations and human resources management issues.

Amongst these is the matter of trust, or more critically, the lack of it, which permeates every level of the organisation. In addition to other deficits, this environmental hazard results in the diminution of self-confidence, hesitancy in decision-making, and reluctance to be proactive on the part of the operational mangers.

What little conversation (?) takes place can more aptly be described as one-way traffic.

The pattern of ‘non-communication’ extends to the worker level, where the resultant disenchantment is not only reflected in frequent (non-union) work stoppages, but also, most dramatically, in the persistently high rate of absention from work.

If this fundamental dilemma were better understood, it would have influenced a more comforting declaration of the new chairman’s former experience in the Industrial Relations Department of GuySuCo – back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, under supervision of the then subject Director. (The actual period of service is uncertain.)

So that it is very possible that an excellent opportunity was missed – in that instead of controverting the objective of a press conference – which was to provide information to the public through the media, appropriate focus was not addressed to the potential strengths of the new incumbent.

The vague allusion to experience in various parts of the sugar industry at senior levels offers little assurance to the doubtful, including managers and workers, and of course, taxpayers; while merely serving for the projected image to be regarded as suspect.

In fact most people in Mr Raj Singh’s shoes, with the self-confidence of his reported experience, and indeed, his age, would have fumed at having to be defended at all.

They would have seen it as opportunities missed for declaring their conviction of successful leadership to redeem sugar to an acceptable level of performance, and sweeten the hopes of its workers, managers and consumers.

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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