The Executive lacks political acumen to address its struggles- US report
According to a study conducted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among struggles being faced by the Executive are; gaining the confidence of all ethnic groupings at the same time, Restraining the abuse of state resources for partisan ends and Managing corruption.
The report titled “Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Assessment for Guyana” was released on Friday, August 19, 2016. It stated that strategically, the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change executive has been pursuing the interests it stated in its electoral platform: unity, reform, inclusion, and good governance.
It outlined other struggles faced by the executive, according to interlocutors who partake in the study as, “Contain(ing) the size of government, and constrain(ing) the habit of inserting party loyalists within made-up positions or by bypassing due processes,” along with achieving political unity on crucial policy issues, such as how to save the sugar industry; and pursuing politically meaningful reforms, including electoral system, political party, and campaign financing reforms.
However, the USAID report stated that “already, the new executive has done enough to suggest that it lacks the political acumen needed to address the above-listed struggles.”
It highlighted the salary increase given to Minister of the government shortly after last year’s General and Regional Elections the “most dramatic illustration of this deficit,” a decision that evoked the widest of condemnations—“most vocally from APNU + AFC supporters.”
Some of the observers, the report said, proposed that the new executive is significantly influenced in its modes of functioning by the military background of the president, his advisors, and supporters.
“From a management perspective, this might be a good thing: heightened efficiency could improve responsiveness and service delivery,” however, observers opined that, given its security sector credentials, the new government should do better in the fight against crime.
Despite statistics from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) over the past months which purported a decrease in crime, there have been an alarming number of criminal activities reported in the Press as of recent.
Positively, and across most stakeholders, the current executive was complimented for “talking the talk.”
“When it comes to democracy, human rights, and governance, the executive has been credentialing itself as a champion, intent on reforming government and upgrading governmental performance. To this end, the executive has invited partnerships—including with USAID—to give effect to the reform agenda” the report outlined.
However, it was considered still too early to assess whether it is actually “walking the walk.”
“Events occurring during the writing of this report suggest that the executive has been sufficiently reminded of its political vulnerability. For example, the decision to table in the National Assembly the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Guyana Sugar Corporation, along with the postponement of police promotions, may indicate a preferential option for more democratic governance” it pointed out.
Additionally, alongside the drafting of a ministerial Code of Conduct, which has been opened for public comment and input, it was noted that there is cautious optimism that a deepening of democratic values within the executive is occurring.
The assessment which was conducted with the full knowledge of the government, examined political change and democratisation in Guyana, analysed core democracy and governance issues, actors, and institutions in the country and developed strategic and programmatic recommendations to address the further development of democracy and governance.
During the conduct of the assessment, the team met with representatives within the three branches of government—the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
Interviews were also conducted in late 2015 with a broad array of Guyanese leaders and experts, sub-national and local level representatives and members of civil society to gain their perspectives on democracy and governance in Guyana and devise concrete recommendations, the United States delegation here said.