granger2

APRIL 17, 2016 | BY | FILED UNDER FEATURES / COLUMNISTS, PEEPING TOM

The government should have let sleeping dogs lie. The President made a decision in relation to the appointment of a ministerial advisor on business and that should have been the end of the matter.
The government is prolonging this controversy trying to offer explanations. The only explanation that was necessary was already given; a decision has been overturned and the work of the government has to go on.
The defence being offered for certain actions is only adding further confusion and controversy to the issue. Sometimes it is best to say nothing.
Where there is a chain of command, there is no acceptable conduct known as strategic intervention. Decisions, even in a military-style setting – and Guyana does NOT have a military government – has to be made through the chain of command.
There is no super-Ministry in Guyana. There is the Presidency which can override a decision of any Ministry, but even the President is obligated to follow the chain of command.  Decisions have to be communicated through the relevant subject Ministers. The only basis for any Minister calling a civil servant has to be for the purposes of information, not for instruction. These are norms which are practiced even within the military.
Bypassing the chain of command can be explained as a ‘strategic intervention’ rather than ‘interference’. There is no right of any Minister to intervene strategically or otherwise in the work of any other Ministry or department which does not fall under that Minister’s remit.
Any decision concerning the Guyana Revenue Authority has to be channeled through the Minister of Finance.  That decision has to be about policy and not about operational matters.
A foreign embassy should make its interventions through the Foreign Ministry. It is not proper protocol for such interventions to be made through other ministries. But if time was of the essence and certain actions had to be taken urgently it may be acceptable for indirect approaches to have been made.
Governments will make mistakes. It is how they deal with these mistakes is what is important. The supporters of certain Ministers are compounding the problems for the ministers they support by trying to defend the indefensible. The chain of command was not followed. The reason was because of the necessity for immediate action since an operation was in progress. End of story!
What is not going to end, are the consequences of the decision to rescind the appointment of a Ministerial Advisor on Business. There is no question as to whether the Minister had the right to make such an appointment. He does.
The person was an appointee to the Minister, not to the government. If a Minister does not have a right to appoint his own advisors – honorific or otherwise – then there is a grave problem in the manner in which the government operates.
The issue was never about the right to make the appointment. The issue was always about the person who was appointed – but no one wants to admit that this is the issue.
The litmus test in this regard is to ask yourself one question: If it were someone else appointed without the knowledge of others in the government, would that appointment have been rescinded?
The government has made a great deal of appointments. Not everyone feels that there is need for all those appointments, but no one is questioning the right of the government to do so.  But a great deal has been made about the appointment of an Advisor on Business. And the only reason is because the person is perceived to have been close to the former administration.
The message is clear to those who were perceived to be on the other side of the political fence: stay on that side.
The decision to rescind that appointment has consequences, important consequences for the government’s relationship with the business class, who must feel somehow that they are being used by the administration and when it is politically expedient they are being dumped.
This is fallout that the government has to attend and perhaps will attend to in the future. The damage has already been done, and the private sector will feel extremely slighted by how one of its members has been treated.
It is a lesson to all the other business people who were tripping over the government with donations.  The business class will, however, continue as it always has. It will take its humiliation, because it feels it has to stoop to the government to secure its interests.
The business class must ask themselves how it is that their financial contributions to things such as cleaning-up the city are acceptable, but it is unacceptable for one of their members to be made a Ministerial Advisor on Business.
The business class should say definitively to the government: “You keep your honorific appointments, we will keep our money! No more donations!”