Independence, foreign assistance, overseas experts

Dr Hinds on race and ethnicity - congrats

Greetings. So very early on in the twenty-five-year-old life of this people’s column I would broach with government (s) the utilisation of our Guyana diaspora.

President Ramotar once attempted some structured engagement which got nowhere. Except that many shrewd, naughty Guyanese set about merely to exploit the re-migrant entitlements. Then President Granger sounded more “engaging”, recognising North America as an overseas “region” of Guyana. Perhaps the Presidency Ministry or the foreign affairs outfit has a “diaspora department” with which I’m not too familiar. You see since around 1973 thousands of Guyana’s better brains found reasons to exile themselves to more developed and accommodating societies. As the Brain Drain continued our own education and training institution could never replace lost skills and experience with what was left to work with. Or at the necessary pace.

Result? “Independent” Guyana has never recovered from the human resource deficit even as brand new technologies and requirements emerged over the past three decades.

So much for independence to manage our own resources – current and future. So obviously independent under-developed states like ours must look overseas for assistance.  Better yet if the qualified and the experienced folks vitally needed were born or once lived here.

Now hiring: Overseas assistance

The generous (?) loans and grants – now “resource envelopes” – are most useful. But who will administer and manage efficiently the new-funded projects? (Even as our inadequate training entities struggle to cope and satisfy?)

Believe it or not, this whole section today was prompted by the lead story from this Sunday’s Stabroek wherein a top Guyanese operative at our “petroleum directorate” was forced to defend his office. And professional integrity.

Apparently, because the entity’s deputy head Mr Nicholas Chuck-A-Sang once worked with an oil company some are imputing that his past employment –and loyalty??- could compromise his role and decisions in his current capacity. Mr Chuck-A-Sang is undeniably highly qualified for this oil-and-gas position. I found his response enlightening and instructive.

Said he: “We need to ensure that the best skills and the best people are trained ad become, if possible, part of the government and on our side to ensure that the development of Guyana is put on a pedestal. You want those domestic skills.

“You want Guyanese to choose that role and they should never be asked to choose between working in the industry and being able to serve their government and (having) that called into question whenever they do that.”

He elaborated much more but I’ll quote just another bit of practical wisdom from him: “Guyanese in the sector should be encouraged to serve their homeland without concerns that they will be influenced by their former employment”. Beautifully said. We as a country desperately need appropriate experts. Great if they are committed locals. Would we “suspect” expatriates if and when they are hired?

Whether in oil-and-gas, or IT, or new forms of electric energy independent Guyana has to reach  out for overseas experts, foreign assistance. Minister Trotman and his gold board suddenly need outside assistance with the mercury/laboratory problem; Director-General (rtd) Field urgently needs various skills specialised to meet the aviation sector’s expansion; the President’s Special Adviser on Security Reform is a Britisher; SOCU’s main investigator/adviser also; in our Health and Justice Sectors foreigners contribute – and just check our daily media to see how many training programmes are both funded and headed by “outsiders” who hope to leave locals well-able.

I’m sure the woefully understaffed Analyst Food and Drug Department would agree that we need to woo and welcome our Guyanese Brains back home in a hurry. (Why do I not like the description “re-migrant” so much?)

A `military’ commissioner?

I run the risk here of trivialising a very serious issue: that of the appointment of a permanent Police Commissioner.

So in the aftermath of Paul Slowe’s findings and recommendations to His Excellency, I’ll just tease, respectfully, with the following questions.

How is our Police Commissioner appointed? By a Service Commission-acting…? From the current officer corps? Or can an outsider be recruited? You have to consider the Force’s morale after such an appointment? What’s taking the “authorities” so long? What’s the age –range? Why can’t that be modified?

Trinidad hired a Canadian to head its Police Service once and Jamaica called on its military officers. But today’s well-organised and armed (scientific) young criminals don’t seem to be fazed by any Commissioner. Do you–all feel that His Excellency, the Brigadier (Retired) can find another retired GDF officer to fill the breach? Discuss…

WPA think-tank Hinds…

I appreciated Dr David Hinds’ column on How Democracy Is Being Undermined in Guyana. The Sunday column is now embedded in its new home, Kaieteur.

Amongst my few buddies I engage in “serious chat” over the beverages. So I thank Dr Hinds for explaining the subtle difference between ethnicity and race. From cultural and group differences, to biological and socio-political influences, he quickly explained the compounded “ethno-racial” reality and its impact on people’s politics. Of course, he used this “class” to illustrate why our politicians – including this Coalition’s leaders – are doomed not to be truly transformative. Loyalty even rules out criticism.

It is this sort of discourse the early WPA engendered even when Forbes Burnham was parading his “sharper steel” of repression in the mid-to late seventies. And this is why I think Dr Hinds – from Buxton and Tempe – should marshall the WPA remnants into a formal think-tank. Eschew electoral politics and compromising “government”!

Oh well – ponder …

1) When will the owner of the derelict co-op bank building in Stabroek begin his promised transformation of that area?

I know there may be financial constraints but all over Georgetown one sees seemingly–abandoned lands and buildings.

Three (3) reasons for this?

’Til next week!


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