The PPP/C is back to its old ways
Kaieteur News – The decision of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) to terminate the contract of its General Manager signals a policy of maximum administrative domination (MAD) within the public sector. The PPP/C in so doing has reverted to its discredited policy of sacrificing professionals in preference for politically favoured persons.
Nizam Hassan, the terminated employee, is one of the more highly respected individuals within the public sector. He previously was employed within the Ministry of Agriculture and was elevated as the General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation. He was later appointed as a General Manager of the GRDB following the problems, which erupted after an audit of that institution was undertaken, by the APNU+AFC.
According to reports in the newspapers, the audit uncovered irregularities in relation to the use of the Petro Caribe Fund, the issuance of promissory notes to interested parties and preference being shown to one major rice exporter.
Criminal charges were laid relating to the non-entry into a ledger of some transactions. It was never clear whether the sums involved were ever accounted for or whether the charges were simply related to an accounting procedure. No one has yet been convicted of those charges filed by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). In fact, most of those charged have been freed by the courts.
Most of the bigwigs who were part of the management of the GRDB during the period covered by the audit are now highly placed in the agricultural sector. Hassan has not been that fortunate; he has been sent packing.
When the PPP/C was in Opposition between 2015 and 2019, it appeared to have learnt from its mistakes. It came in to office promising a more inclusive approach. But the PPP/C memory is short and now that it has settled, the same old methods are being deployed.
The PPP/C’s idea of inclusive governance is to hand out positions to select Opposition persons and its friends in the private sector. This is a mollifying tactic rather than one aimed at inclusion. But no one should have expected better. So long as those with a penchant to be control-freaks are involved in the PPP/C, the obsession with control was always going to be on the cards.
The PPP/C in this respect is no different from the APNU+AFC. No sooner had the World Bank agreed to provide major support for the education sector, the APNU+AFC decided to reassign its then Minister of Education and appointed someone else. It was obvious that the PNCR, the dominant party in the APNU+AFC, wanted to have one of its candidates in command of the management of this fund.
When the PPP/C came in, it announced that emphasis would be placed on agricultural research. The PPP/C, when it came into office, said that it would emphasize improving genetic and research capacity of farming and the development of new strains for paddy. No sooner had the PPP/C announced plans to boost agricultural research and development, including evidence based extension services and in the area of feed formulation, the decision was taken to remove the existing Director of NAREI and replace that person with someone who has made no attempt to hide his affiliation to the PPP/C.
A lot of money is likely to be poured into agricultural research and extension services. And this is why there needs to be transparent accounting systems to ensure that there is accountability for the sums used in research and extension services.
With the present decision to end the services of Mr. Hassan, the PPP/C is reverting to its old ways. It prefers trusted lieutenants to professional public servants.
The media has been speculating that the decision to end the services of the highly competent Hassan has to do with the problems, which have arisen in respect to payment for rice from Panama. But this excuse is like a strainer: it is full of holes.
The Panama Agreement is a red herring. Hassan cannot be held responsible for that agreement. A Memorandum was inked way back in 2014 for rice sales to Panama. The agreement later caused consternation in Panama with rice producers there complaining about the purchase of rice from Guyana. The outgoing General Manager of the GRDB therefore cannot be held responsible for any such agreement and the debt, which is owed to local rice farmers.
No one should fall for that excuse. The most likely reason why Hassan has been sent packing is the same reason that Dr. Homenaught was sent home: the PPP/C is back to its old ways.