I think it is timely to share how I think the government has done in the nearly three years since it assumed office. For starters, in three short years the government has succeeded in performing the miraculous through registering one of its rare positives. The David Granger administration has taken back some control of the country. It is some control and with a long grind still ahead. As a reference, some ten years ago, then Opposition Leader Mr. Robert Corbin, stood up in the National Assembly and informed listeners that control of the country had passed. Pass it did. While not a fan of the former PNC leader, I must say that he was absolutely right on that particular score.
Today, the government has delivered against overwhelming odds (and my own expectations) in arresting the previous politically-assisted slide of this country into a full-fledged narco-state. Some would assert that it was long in such a condition, which is only corroborated by the almost universal weeping and gnashing of teeth, the bitter resistance, and the wholesale relocation of huge sums of cash from the local economy. Still, due to this government’s vigilance, cooperation, and determined enforcement efforts, some of the country has been recovered from the conjoined evils of drugs and dirty money. In terms of citizens’ confidence, institutional enhancement, and international recognition and reputation, some progress has been recorded in each area. This alone is priceless to a once imprisoned (still is, to some extent) society. Against the backdrop of a hard-earned positive, there remains the incontestable reality of corrupt people within the government apparatus, including its parties. They subvert more rapid developments; it is just as disappointing (and undermining) that some of the leading voices in this country number among those names are allied on behalf of the destructive money forces.
In terms of corruption, there are ongoing suspicions, whispers and telltale associations of a senior official here and there, but the great majority of them have plodded forward, and managed to stay uncompromised so far. It just might be undetected, too. This stands out in stark contrast to the unending barrages of just a little while back that was aimed at their counterparts prior to May, 2015. More pointedly and of utmost importance (to me) not a single citizen has pointed an accusatory finger, or raised a condemning voice, or harboured a genuine belief that President Granger is either a troubled man or a tainted one. All I suggest to the thoughtful and fair-minded is that as they compare, it is left up to them, as to against whom and in what contexts. This country direly needed huge doses of integrity, confidence, and trust, and I think it did well in these regards. The downside to this is that many of those who support the ruling coalition possess the unshakeable urge that it is their turn. That is, to be generous to themselves; the government has been slothful in purging these loyalists and miscreants, who benefit from the gentlemen’s agreements of financial handshakes.
Staying a little longer with ministers and performance, Mr Greenidge has moved quietly and efficiently in meeting the demands of his portfolio; Attorney General Williams has managed himself better and is leading the charge very forcefully (and commendably) to address this country’s standards and obligations in terms of CFATF expectations; I suggest that the Business Minister cultivate a more capitalist mindset, and is seen as too cautious, if not pedestrian. The Finance portfolio came with what could be decently labelled the public pornography of the Guyanese economy, and with many a Damoclesian overhang; Minister Jordan strives to leave a mark, amidst a system that had too many toxins and too little clean oxygen; things are rough.
With reference to crime, the white-collar variety has become more clandestine and arguably not less prolific. This is a weakness on government’s part: too much history, too many relationships. But whatever the collar and colour, the attitude and actions of before were the equivalent of an unaffordable, unyielding deadweight. Nowadays, it has been reduced to a promising light heavyweight. To be sure, the Guyana Police Force is still burdened down by the legacies of long years of
profligate financing, and the influence of once preponderant commercial angels, now fallen and claiming penury. Nevertheless, there is still enough coin in the realm to sway the scales of integrity to the imbalance of patent injustice, as circumstances necessitate. The demons that were allowed to congregate and flourish have neither been bottled nor exported northward; far from it. This is an area of pronounced vulnerability and exposure for this government, and it needs to be more aggressive.
In the meantime, the bureaucracy, in large patches, is still dirty, cheating, and criminally minded. It is in this context that the inching progress of the GRA must be lauded and seen as a bright light, though only a sliver of a presence, while the Treasury collects a fraction more of what is due (was due all along). Mr Statia labours forward; he is an Alcatraz. I recommend some dungeons for accommodation for the deserving; they are known commodities and easily identifiable.
And now, it is time for the really bad and the really ugly, compliments of this government. Management is bad with lots of voids, and made worse by an unwillingness to be guided, or to listen to and learn from experts. GuySuCo stands as a monument of incompetence and indecisiveness; catfish is beached from rank inefficiency and an unpardonable abdication of responsibility; and education continues to be an open question.
To wrap this up, the government inherited a scorched devastated earth: a money laundering paradise; a dirty economy; nonexistent crime fighting machinery; a radioactive bureaucracy; and a belligerent privateering sector. I submit that it did fair to well, all things considered.