Govt not serious about national unity – commentators

… say social cohesion talk “pure propaganda”

In light of Guyana’s state of affairs with respect to the appointment of former Guyana Defence Force officers and predominantly one ethnicity of Permanent Secretaries, social commentators are of the belief that the Administration is not serious or genuine about its national unity and social cohesion agenda.
This position was taken by former Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive Member, Sase Singh, who last week had highlighted that 16 of the 17 Permanent Secretaries within the public service are Afro-Guyanese. Singh had accused the coalition Government of creating a “situation of ethnic bias”.
However, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who has responsibilities of the public service, refuted the situation was a deliberate one, saying that the economist was being “factious”. Harmon had justified the situation, explaining that his Administration did not bring any one to take up the Permanent Secretary positions but merely promoted public servants that were already within the system.
“There is nobody that we brought into the system and put them as PSs. Many of them were PSs before in the previous Administration and we took them over… All we’ve done is move some of the PS from one Ministry to the next. So to say we have deliberately gone around looking for one race group to put them there, Mr Singh is being very factious,” the State Minister had said.
But in rebuttal, Singh pointed out that the Minister is not making any sense with his explanation, questioning if whether public servants of other ethnicities were not qualified to be promoted.
“So there are no Indians or no Chinese or no Amerindians in the Public Service that are promotable? Is that what he’s saying, that there is no Amerindians, no Chinese, no Portuguese that are promotable in the public service,” asked the economist.
According to the former AFC Executive, back on the 2015 campaign trail, the coalition had painted a picture of a new Guyana for young people; one with social cohesion and national unity.
“Now how will you promote social cohesion and national unity if you impose an executive leadership on the nation that is so stacked with people from one race. What happened to the other people of the country? Don’t they deserve an opportunity to climb, don’t they deserve an opportunity to be able to serve at the highest level?” he further questioned.
Singh went on to point out that President David Granger preaches about national unity and social cohesion at every occasion he gets but when one looks at the state of affairs in the country, the reality is that this Government seems to be doing everything that is against social cohesion and national unity.
“There’s a grave inconsistency in the Granger Administration at the highest level, between their words and their actions. And this needs to be addressed because the inconsistency is causing great harm to the moral fibre of the nation,” the economist said.
Moreover, Singh challenges Minister Harmon to prove that he is being “factious” and provide the correct information to support that majority of the Permanent Secretaries within the Public Sector are not Afro-Guyanese.
The coalition Government has come in for much criticism over its appointments to State positions – whether it is about racism or the apparent militarisation of the country. This latter criticism comes in light of frequent appointments of ex-Army men to high Government posts.
Local commentator, Ramon Gaskin, has since cautioned that Government needs to be careful of this practice.
“It is also clear to me that this Government when they have a vacancy and when they looking for people, they always go to some retired Army officers to put in those positions,” he posited.
Gaskin clarified that he is not saying that any retired Army officer should be denied a job in the public service, especially if he is young and qualified. But at the same time, he added, Government needs to be cautious of the message it is sending the public.
“They have to be very careful of this militarisation of the public service and while we have to make sure that trained and qualified military men should be allowed to continue to serve their country, it has to be done in a proper competitive manner. And they must advertise the positions just like the others and the army officers get the positions on their own merits,” the local commentator asserted.
Furthermore, Gaskin opined that the whole talk of social cohesion coming from Government is nothing but “pure propaganda, it’s all nonsense.” He noted that the coalition Administration has not done, and is not doing, anything to promote social cohesion.
To this end, Gaskin touted that in order to get or improve social cohesion in Guyana, Government first has to determine the factors that are hindering this.
“We have to find out what it is first of all that’s preventing the communities from being cohesive… To get cohesion, you have to do an analysis of the non-cohesion and deal with those problems one at a time and that’s how you get cohesion, not by propaganda and talking nonsense,” he posited.