Dear Editor,

I am pleased to notice that government ministers are learning.  They are learning to keep their lips sealed, and to leave the cameras alone.  Increasingly of late, it has been silence and absence from most quarters, and a focus on the struggle to cope with a terrible inheritance.  There is hope that some of them will last, contribute, and stop collecting money under false pretences.  Most of the ministers fail to garner much interest from me, but a few do attract some passing study.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has the honour of being first on the programme.  The man is scarcer than a rare earth mineral and purposely dormant; he might even be an unrecognized member of that one-time Motown band of the same description.  I trust that he is still up and about and brings his considerable presence to bear on behalf of the government and people of Guyana, and not necessarily in that order.  Mr Greenidge will go down in history as the most unassuming, most unspoken, and most unhailed Foreign Affairs Minister that this country has ever had.  Garrulous he is not; he seems to prefer candlelight than the limelight; and can never be accused of being a media hound.  The man only barks as a last resort.  It is said that still waters run deep, and I am inclined to believe that that is the case with Mr Greenidge.  Still, I must wonder whether he is at the UN by the East River, or he missed the street signs and ended up closer to Madison Square Garden.  I don’t see him as a Times Square adventurer.  Then again, he might be spending time at the swanky eatery, Elaine’s; of course, the discussion is all business related.

Talking about business, the Minister of Business needs to persuade that his priority is national business and not family business.  The two are not one and the same.  Great care should be exercised to dilute the hue and cry about nepotism, cronyism, and all the other relatively pointed isms.  It is a delicate spot for anyone to be in, and he must do much more to justify his existence.  The man is nice fellow, but that is no recommendation.

Now if there is one minister who justifies his existence, it would be the well-named Raphael Trotman, who lives several of them in plain sight.  This man (true to his name) is globetrotter, jetsetter, pacesetter, trailblazer, oilman, gasman, lumberman, gold man, diamond man, and clearly a man for all seasons and products.  What is this tireless public servant not responsible for, not doing, or not delivering?  The latter depends on who is asked and how they are asked.  When his extensive portfolio of oversight is examined, I recall the former man from NICIL.  The difference is that the onetime man from NICIL supposedly knew everything, but disclosed nothing.

Then there is the Minister of Agriculture.  Sometimes I ask myself (I really do) if there is such a minister still around in green Guyana.  In answer to my own question (I do that too) I respond that if there is, then there should not be one.  What is the nation planting?  What is it reaping?  What is it selling?  Well, I can answer that last one.  I move around and people offer me pizza, macaroni and cheese, and cheese cake.  I did not leave the United States to come here for that fare.

How about some rice, minister?  There should be a concerted push for rice cakes, rice pudding, rice porridge, rice flour, rice and curry, fried rice, and cook-up rice to resume their once glorious pride of place.  Forget about carb counting; Guyanese should eat more rice, which would justify having an agriculture ministry, and by extension minister.  In the Philippines, they eat rice for breakfast (and lunch and dinner, too).  Must be those balmy Pacific currents!  I do hear that onions are on the menu of projections; but why is this country importing nuts, plantain chips, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, RC Cola, and all the other Colas?  As a word of caution, I remind one and all that one of the main secret ingredients in those beverages used to be coke. That would be the Latin American variety, and which is the source of so much prosperity in this society.

As if all of this is not enough, the Ministry of the Presidency is fast becoming a holding pen and halfway house for cabinet colleagues.  Nobody in their right mind would call it a kitchen cabinet.  At the rate matters are progressing with the influx of ministerial refugees, it is more like a penthouse cabinet.  As for holding pen, I speculate on the destination to be memorialized in their final deportation orders.  And if the now crowded Ministry of the Presidency has been converted to a halfway house, the other half on the outside is not waiting for the pending release of those now bureaucratically incarcerated.

Sticking to the welcoming red carpet adhesive of the Ministry of the Presidency, no one should ever again make the mistake of calling that officer and gentleman ‘l’il.’  The man grows bigger by the day, and is in some real big business.  Correction: make that plural, as in businesses.  The word is lots of partnerships; and when relations and things get too dicey, then the way forward is through sole trading.  The Minister of Business could learn a trick or two from a now proven and entrenched hand.  Adam Smith may have thought it invisible; but this is Guyana.  This confirms that the brotherhood of the barracks is today the new paramountcy.  The party is still in the running for that accolade, but steadily loses ground.  This is part of the new dispensation, all of which is very intriguing, if not entertaining.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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