OPINION: New names, new ministries, massive bureaucracy: were these promised on the campaign trail?

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letterWhy did we not learn of the massive plans to rename and radically restructure Ministries of Government, during the Coalition campaign trail? Was it that these moves were not worked out at that point in time, or did the Coalition for some reason prefer not to divulge such information? I personally can see no logical reason for the latter; and if the changes we are now seeing were indeed hatched from comprehensive assessments and were determined to be the most strategic options, then one would expect it to be a main campaign pillar. I will speculate no further on the birth of the idea, suffice it to say that the manner in which these changes are being made suggests a very haphazard and dare I say infeasible modus operandi.

After 23 years, the country has the opportunity to experience change in a central and substantive manner. The Coalition has, during its campaign and in its manifesto, made far-reaching and exciting commitments to the electorate, with promises of VAT reduction, bridge toll reduction and sweeping increases in wages. This will undoubtedly require hard work, as the concept of revenue neutrality still lurks as a critical component of economic management. With these and other promises in mind, the path ahead is not an easy one – albeit not an impossible one.

Immediately after the swearing in of our new President, there seemed to be a revitalization of our mindsets. An expectation of great things, compounded by the fact that His Excellency, President David Granger immediately embarked on projects to restore national pride. We saw waterways being cleared of vegetation, roadsides being cleared and graded, monuments being restored and a massive clean up effort at various hotspots. We heard talks of inclusivity and saw a welcomed show of maturity by the new President in his approach to the new Opposition and by his efforts to reassure existing government functionaries that they will be assessed solely on the performance of their duties. Optimism flooded most quarters, and even leaked into the corners where fear of change dwells.

Then we started to see the appointments. We waited for this with baited breath and were grateful that it was unfolding so soon, as we all recognized the colossal amount of work waiting to be undertaken. Within the first week of the new administration we saw 26 Ministers being named to 18 Ministries, and we saw a massive renaming and macro-rearrangement of existing Ministries. One would hope that this was in the making for years, with all or most of the intricacies having been already determined by the new Government; and is now being put into operation. This however becomes very doubtful when one takes into account the absence of details in this regard during the campaign trail, in the manifesto itself, and even now – at the time of the name changes and rearrangement.

For the most part, we are left to learn the name of new Ministries and speculate about the nature of their portfolios. At best, sketchy details have been provided in this regard from the new Government. But quite apart from the obvious lack of information and what this means, an exercise like this – at this time, is undoubtedly untenable. And the reasons are simple.

The new Government has been out of active administration for 23 years, in fact, many of its Functionaries have never been integrally involved in the day-to-day Management of the Country. Yes, some of them were shadow Ministers, but can we really say they were integrally involved when they themselves professed the lack of inclusivity by the PPP Administration? For all intents and purposes they are new to this business. This in no way suggests an inability to get the job done, but reveals the need to employ strategies commensurate with this reality.

Restructuring is often times necessary; necessary for improvements, for growth and for effectiveness. Restructuring however can only be undertaken after a thorough assessment and understanding of the realities. This alone can drive the crafting of remedial strategies and any effective restructuring efforts. Someone wise often said to me, if you cannot measure it then you cannot manage it. Simply put, one needs to understand on a fundamental basis, the status quo, as it exists, to be able to determine the measures necessary for improvements. In business, it’s called a SWOT analysis, an analysis and understanding of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is doubtful that such analysis was thoroughly undertaken by the then new Government, given the purported non-inclusivity of the PPP Administration, and given the fact that we are merely days into this new dispensation.

Although a lot has been said about the top heaviness of the new Government and what it means in terms of cost to the taxpayer, and how it gives an odd meaning to President Granger’s promise of a muscular (and presumably leaner) Executive, the more serious repercussion is yet to be confronted.

The reorientation and restructuring of existing Ministries and the development of new ones are exercises that require years of work. Every element from the reorientation of existing staff, the reformulation of policies, the re-designation of functions, the split outs and convergences of mandates, how this affects staffing, the facilities and structures consequently required, the need to change Stamps, Letterheads and other areas of branding, would have to be spearheaded and undertaken by a very new group of persons who are for the most part unfamiliar with the intricacies of the executive system in its present form.

This undoubtedly will not come cheap; as very high levels of finances, time and energy will be necessary for such a restructuring exercise. What makes it worse is the fact that these moves do not follow any thorough assessment; they are not birthed by reports prepared by persons who have studied the existing arrangement and who understand the strengths and weaknesses and can consequently formulate a plan for reform. It is a design conceptualized blindly.

These activities will naturally occupy the time and energy of our new Ministers. They are placed in a position where they have to learn whatever they can about portfolios they are inheriting from the PPP Administration, while simultaneously effecting changes to those portfolios, and in some cases creating completely new ones. All of this while adapting to the realities of Public Office, undertaking travel on behalf of the State (because no, things do not stand still during the transition) and playing their respective parts in bringing to fruition the 100 days plan and the promises under the manifesto. My head hurts just thinking about it. They may very well be competent, but they are not machines and there is such a thing as saturation point and worse – the point of diminished returns.

And that, the prospect of diminished returns, is the singular biggest risk created by the reshuffling, restructuring, chopping, pasting and inventing that has taken place in the Executive arm of the new Government during its first week in office. Diminished returns as it relates to the quantum and quality of work that can be afforded for specific campaign promises and as it relates to fixing the biggest problems facing the country. Crime and Security, Health Care Reform, Tax Reform, Infrastructure, Alternative Power, Guysuco, GPL… who is left to fix these problems while our new Ministers direct their resources, time and energy to restructuring and creating new Ministries? Can you imagine the magnitude of budget planning that will become necessary this year to facilitate the restructuring of these Ministries? That poses a real impediment to the presentation of a budget premised on effectively meeting the country’s most critical needs.

I, and I’m certain many others, expected a strategic administration aimed at enabling substantive and sustainable change. Such a strategy would have seen the existing Ministries being helmed by new Ministers who are knowledgeable (whether through professional training or exposure) in the respective sectors. They would undertake assessments of projects and agencies under their Ministries and identify areas necessary for restructuring and areas that may be more suited to the mandate of a different Ministry or a new Ministry.

And when those things are determined and consulted on with the electorate, and when the details and logistics are decided on, then we can have effective change being made; and we will be in an informed position to determine and plan the budgetary allocations necessary to enable those changes. Understanding what’s broken, determining why it is broken and formulating strategies to fix it is a long and onerous exercise, but it is necessary for effective change.

Some of the cross cutting areas that were the subject of heavy campaigning, by their very nature, ought to have specific mechanisms set up to handle them. Meaningful Authorities and Committees (whether under Ministries or Independent) would have been sufficient as an interim measure, established to look at Constitutional Reform for example, or Security Sector Reform and to identify and administer reform programmes needed.

The Coalition-Government’s strategy is however different, and it has taken even its own supporters by surprise. Maybe the ensuing confusion and speculation would have been mitigated if the populace were provided with details on the process used to guide the decisions taken over the past week. Even the employees of the affected Ministries and Agencies do not understand what it means for them either, much less the populace; this is an untenable reality.

 

Yolita Andrews, concerned Guyanese

29 COMMENTS

  1. It is sad to see and hear you idiots who sat for 23 yrs with the ppp/c and took all the crap they thrown at you, yet, nothing much has been done for the Guyanese people. However, the news government been in power just for 1 month and you assh*les are looking for miracles. The pppc supporters i can understand for they are so blind that even if the present government wipe there asses they are going still think the same so i forgive them for i can read between the line and see who they are. Who i cant forgive are those who claimed they are for the government and started to wine and criticized already. If you dnt have anything better to do, dnt blog your crap. Go fine another hubby. You are so fony it disgusting and shameful to think you have started already.

  2. Mr. Side Kick, who are the thieves? If a few stole that much, you do the math of what is likely to happen with more

  3. Something this big should have been mentioned ; or perhaps it is sudden and perhAps lacks analysis and thought as the writer suggested.

  4. Putting six opinions on a table sounds like mass confusion to me ! Coalition was formed to gain power – power is in and of itself a powerful thing!

  5. It’s quite remarkable to see prompt decisions being executed by our new government to ensure that our country can be restored earliest and Guyanese can be out of poverty and start earning a respectful salary to take care of there family and get their children properly educated. I must commend APNU / AFC for effectiveness by removing most of the upper management officials from previous government who were hoarding tax payers money to comfort and live luxurious lifestyle why poor ones remained in the slum. Guyana has numerous potential of generating income tax from every working individual, customs duty on items and vehicles. A keen notice of money launder which pulls the economic stability down, causing unstable money circulation thus causing the money to have less value. Printing large amount bills only de values the currency. Ensure proper currency circulation within the country and a dollar will regain it’s value, and thus reducing high cost of living.
    All the best to our new government, my support is always for what’s best for my country.

  6. Can we simply give these people in office the opportunity to function before castigating them? Its too early.Some of us are to smart for ourselves. Give them a chance.

  7. If they are better than the previous Govt. it makes me wonder now, it takes 4 guys to do one man job Hmm. Something to think about. Hold on to the rails for more BS.

  8. Mr. Kammie, they have one VP. Also they have a well stable economy that can sustain itself for many decades. so come again.

  9. Dear Editor, I am from The Netherlands and live in the past in Guyana, and was born in Suriname. This is correct and very learn full what Madam Yolita Andrews have written. And some of the commenters have also wright good things.In this countries include Suriname when government changes by elections always this things happen, and it will cost a lot of money, what will result in huge debts and the cost of living in Guyana will raise. Whe have Guyanese people now over here a family from Georgetown and they say how the prices of goods high in Guyana and that will not change. Very pitty for beautiful Guyana, but still hope the best for Guyana. From The Hague The Netherlands. Franklin. Bekmy.

  10. These people just got into Office, no one, and I mean no one has the right to criticize or condemn the changes these men are making; in addition creating or renaming Ministries, is this really an issue worth discussing at the moments? The PPP have appointed people that were not qualified to be in Office, let alone be in charge of most positions. Some of these people I knew, their level of Education could hardly pass a double digit IQ test, but they were in charge, for the most part because their direct or indirect friendship with one or more members of the “Powerful Party People.” For 23 years our families and friends, lived under the most horrible circumstances. The “lucky” ones got help from those of us overseas, which subsidize their meager incomes. Yes there is food in supermarkets, and vendors selling everything you can find in America. But many days the monthly salary “stretched” only so far. Poverty, Unemployment, Homelessness, Drugs, Guns have been became the “norm”. Guyanese could not even speak up or out against this regime, many suffered in silence, those who didn’t paid the ultimate price. As is expected in a Democracy, governments change, but the PPP did not expect to be out, but it happened. Can Pres. Granger, and P.M. Nagamootoo change all of this in a few days? Hell No! Not even the first two years of being in Office. There’s an old adage: “It is easier to build and harder to break.” Unfortunately, in Guyana, it’s in the reverse, the breaking took more than 23 years, now it’s time to rebuild, and rebuilding will require support, from everyone. I hate that people, are expecting the Pres & PM to miraculously transform the country immediately! Guyanese needs to BREATHE. Personally, I am thankful that God, Allah, Jehovah, Yaweh, showed up in Guyana on May 11th, 2015. And I am sure in time, with help and positive support, Guyana and Guyanese can regain some semblance of dignity, and be removed from the records as the 3rd poorest country in the world.

  11. pool, it’s not the Honorable President Mr. David Granger. It is His Excellency The President Mr. David Granger. So ,when you have something to say, you must say it right. O.K?

  12. Indeed this is worrisome. What’s next.

    We were told to wait and see. Many voted this coalation into office for a change (the slogan was “Its time”). I get the impression that we will revisit the Burnham era once again.

  13. The Granger led colation has made a bold more of rebrading government given the influence the past government had on its every crack and crevice. I am sure that was a strategy that was discuss adnasuem between the parties so that everyone had their share of the governmental pie.
    I believe the strategy is devoid of continuity and financial astuteness. The colation now is compelled to let the guyanese public know what is the objective and the parameters by which they will be measured.
    In the absence of any immediate response the table may have started tilting heading into 2020.

  14. Yolita,I appreciate your concerns,and obviously,you are entitle to your opinion,which is your democratic right.But I need to remind you,this is a coalition of six parties,each has its own opinion too,to agree and not agree.We also must agree,that it takes maturity to form a coalition,each bringing different views to the table,and we must applaud their efforts for making this a reality.This is a NEW BEGINNING and the Ministers may be new to their portfolios,but I believe,they will give a good account of themselves,for they are intelligent people.President Granger most likely is satisfied with his choices.Let`s give them the opportunity to serve.

  15. The people did not expect to win, hence the apparent lack of preparation for what has become haphazard changes. Who will print all of the new stationery required, and at what cost? Will one entity be hired or will the wealth be shared?

  16. I do hope that when the Honorable President Mr. David Granger begins to tighten the screws of Government these very same commenters will still be here to comment. Further I say not.

  17. Wish to share the observations and comments of Yolita Andrews and to share the in the comments made before, hereunder:
    “Many are in agreement with the observations of Messrs Jeffrey, Griffith, Hinds, and to some extent, Ogunseye. The restructuring of the various Government Ministries and the addition of some more, including appointments of so many junior Ministers do not seem to reflect the original intention of not having more Ministries. The new portfolios (some seem odd), I believe will lead to overlapping of functions even narrowly which can lead to discomfort among Ministers/Officers performing their duties. Further, it can provide fodder for discontent and strife by the Opposition. The perception is not good. It will take a lot of explanation to justify these new portfolios. The President has to be wary of criticisms; he should also be allowed to make his errors early with a view to correcting them also early. It must be recognized too, that Guyana is not a small country and should not be compared with the Caribbean Islands, even though, in some cases its population is smaller. Surely, too, WPA is represented by Mr Rupert Roopnaraine who, I am sure is communicating with his Party. All representatives of various Parties in the Coalition would recognize the urgency of getting on with the People’s Business. Hence, too much consultation can waste a lot of precious time. Let us see how much of ‘their’ plans can be achieved in the hundred days in office. The country cannot be carried away with the recent Exxon announcement of Oil find. This will take time and will have other concomitant issues to deal with. Let us give H.E. David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo the benefit of the concerns many of us share – too many portfolios – that their collective knocking of heads will result soon of a people working together for the benefit of ALL. God Bless”

  18. So far , the clean up process in GT is free. Where the money coming to pay for the rest of the changes ?

  19. Don’t be too surprised.
    The jackass cart before the jackass is in motion.
    countdown to possible failure and mega debt.
    History is repeating itself.

  20. I am dissapointed .This is a huge beauocracy. Can it function effeciently and in real time, I doubt it.It has been proven over and over that bloated governments are inherently inefficient. Ms Andrews analysis is correct and timely and the government should take note that there is no honeymoon period and Guyanese will be on their guard against any sign of excess by this government.We will not be led by the nose anymore.

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