The authorities have decided to remove the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) from the portfolio of entities under the Ministry of Agriculture and place it under the Ministry of Finance via the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Ltd. (NICIL). Considering that GUYSUCO is an agricultural-based organisation that requires the much-needed technical and professional input from the Agriculture Ministry to lift standards and quality of production and productivity, the decision has come as somewhat of a surprise. There is also some confusion about the appointment of the Chairman of GUYSUCO’s board, with one news outlet reporting that a decision has not been made because the Cabinet is divided on the matter; while another reporting that the appointment has been made.
Suffice it to state that from a governance perspective, for the Head of the Special Purpose Unit of NICIL, established to privatise aspects of the operations of GUYSUCO, to also be the chairman of GUYSUCO presents a conflict of interest in view of GUYSUCO’s now reporting relationship with NICIL. This arrangement can adversely affect the proper functioning, independence and professionalism of the GUYSUCO board. It can also stifle independent and critical thinking as well as the expression of and due reflection on diverse views in a decision-making process, which is the raison d’être for having boards in place. One recalls the previous head of NICIL chairing several State boards that had reporting relationships with NICIL, with disastrous consequences.
In relation to the transfer of responsibility for the petroleum sector from the Natural Resources Ministry to the Ministry of the Presidency (MoP), we hope that the arrangement is a temporary one, pending the establishment of the Department of Energy, eventually blossoming out into a full-fledged Ministry. The MoP has historically not been a technical Ministry or Department, save and except matters relating to the functioning of the Public Service, national security and defence. Care should therefore be exercised in ensuring that the MoP is not over-burdened by assuming direct responsibility for areas that are clearly the remit of core Ministries under oversight from subject Ministers and with reporting relations to the Cabinet. This is consistent with the way governments are organized and structured for the delivery of public services…..