Two recent reports in the news caught my attention. There was the Minister of Public Infrastructure making some very pointed remarks on procurement; and then there was the matter involving the Matron of the GPHC.
This very senior nursing officer is being sent on administrative leave in public and via the media. Whatever the merits or demerits surrounding her situation, the whole business about sending her, or not sending her, on administrative leave, and who is ultimately responsible for doing so has become one tortured fractured affair. I say tortured and fractured because it appears that the issue is being passed from hand to hand, with careful distancing, even more cautious phrasing, and no telltale fingerprints as the primary objectives. This might be politically correct, but it is a whirligig of indecision, and somewhat embarrassing all around.
Editor, I understand that there are some strong internal disagreements, perhaps sharp controversies. But these should not have risen to the spectacle of this public juggling performance. A better way to conduct this sort of business is to hear the issue; examine the facts; and recommend or decide. Then move on. It looks indecisive, if not spineless; and as if men are going out of their way, and bending over backwards, to demonstrate how careful they are. Neither the corporation, the parties involved nor the public is well served by such gyrations.
Now it is time for Minister Patterson and the thorny issue of procurement.
I think that the Minister is right on the money. Voting for change does not mean upturning everything and ousting everyone to accommodate the immediate desires and whims of those who so voted. I would be the first to say that some of the procurement/contract beneficiaries of yore should be penalized, if not blacklisted temporarily for their excesses and rip-offs of the Guyanese taxpayer. Further, it is my belief that the old procurement structure should have been dismantled and discarded, inclusive of sensitive parties. But there are such things as due diligence, process, procedures, standards, and fairness. In all of these areas, there must be consistent and unimpeachable adherence. If not, then the circumstances would be ripe for ongoing exploitation, while using new faces and the same dirty tricks. In the vernacular, it would be the equivalent of exchanging a crab-dog for a stray dog.
It is why I recommend that interested parties manage expectations, and manage themselves better. I recognize that procurement is where the money is, and that men want their piece of the action, a nice rich slice. Or what they believe to be their just rewards for their loyalty and decades of famine. These same men must appreciate that it is a brave new world out there, and that the free-for-all of yesterday just ran into an unyielding brick wall. Call it modernization, or transparency, or code of conduct, or backlash, or hangover, or whatever. But those drooling and panting to displace and replace are well advised to be careful what they wish for, as the accounting could be very steep.
To his credit, Minister Patterson sent a clear message. Now he must maintain his position. Like he said, there are laws involved, and all aspire to be law abiding, don’t we?