Guyana is a front-runner in the stakes for wasting people’s time

Dear Editor,

I don’t know if there is any other country in the world where people’s time is wasted as it is in Guyana, but if there is, Guyana would still stand out as a front-runner.

If this current government does nothing else, it owes each citizen a debt to dismantle structures of senseless bureaucracy, incompetence and ineptitude.

Two individuals recently had the royal run-around to get certificates from the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) for exams they successfully completed since mid-last year (2016). The IDCE offers programmes administered by the University of Guyana (UG). One of the individuals needs her certificate to complete an application for a programme being offered by the said UG. She was told that the certificate, which should have initially been ready within three months, had a spelling error and had to be redone. It took them nine months to realize that error. Over those nine months, the young lady was repeatedly told that her certificate was not yet ready. Consequently, the prospective UG student was charged $500 to make a change to her UG application. She had to pay a further $500 to IDCE for ‘expediting’.

The latter process meant she had to go to a named commercial bank and stand in a snaking queue for almost one hour to pay $500 (approximately US$2.30). The process of getting the certificate sorted took about 4 days in total, and on the date she was told to finally uplift her certificate it was still not ready. This was after one week of her $500 payment, because some Dean at UG had not completed the certificate’s endorsement. That young lady has already incurred expense of close to $10,000 in transportation and loss of income through the whole unfortunate episode,  which was not her fault. How are we really helping people? How are we really helping to retain them? How are we going to build capacity and develop Guyana with such backwardness?

The second individual’s experience, though similar, differs slightly, since the institution for which her certificate is required is in Canada. She already has a confirmed departure date from Guyana to Toronto. Her certificate is still not ready after much running up and down.

I had my own troubling experience dealing with UG recently too, but that was already addressed by an administrator who seems to be making an effort to rescue competence.

This culture of wasting people’s time and money seems to be continuing unabated. It is worrisome when, at Guyana’s highest institution of learning, such a culture of negligence and procrastination seems to be the order of the day. The systems are convoluted by a mix of inflexibility, attitudinal hostility and lack of consideration or empathy for people who are often struggling to improve their lives.

Something needs to be done to stem this “come-back-tomorrow”, “come-back-next week” culture.

Such is the case at City Hall too, where earlier this year I had a four month push around on a very simple matter by a senior official. If what my friends and I experienced as (dis)services are the accepted norm, when multiplied by hundreds of other clients or customers, we are in deep trouble as a nation.

I know the Head of a prominent entity that is almost completely disillusioned by this nonsensical, unproductive culture in Guyana; something that daily affects his ability to perform and produce efficiently.

Invariably when such lapses are challenged the buck always gets passed to somebody or some senseless, illogical excuse is given that the hapless client has to live with, since redress is often non-existent.

It leads to growing frustration in our society. The wasting of time is the wastage of money, resources, health, life, etc. The often coined sentiment, “Well, this is Guyana” offers no real hope for progress at the rate that this country requires development.

In the World Bank Group’s IBRD, IDA 2017 Report on (Ease of) Doing Business, Guyana is ranked at 124 out of 190 countries. That means there is a 65% difficulty rate of doing any transaction in Guyana, compared to 4% and 35% in the US and Jamaica, respectively.

The relevant oversight bodies and government are encouraged to continue advancing influence and implementing mechanisms for improving service standards and operational efficiency within organizations and entities. It is vital to renewing public confidence and facilitating development in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Orette Cutting

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