Home Letters Significance of Private Sector’s ‘A’ rating for President’s 1st 100 days in...
On the campaign trail, the President explicitly stated that the Government’s model of economic development would be a balance between the public sector and the private sector. Since assuming office, he has kept that promise, and has made this mix of strategies central to his economic policy.
And based on the recent pronouncement by the Guyana Private Sector, that the President deserves an ‘A’ for his performance during the first 100 days in office, this model is proving to be quite viable indeed. In conferring such a distinction on the President, the Guyana Private Sector has made an important point: the private sector may not be the panacea for the economic ills the country faces, but it can play a decisive and pivotal role in the creation of the much-needed wealth that the country needs to have in order to fix its economic woes.
This milestone was announced even though the President had not quite reached that landmark. What does this distinction mean? It means that the Government in power knows how to govern. Governance, “the way government gets its job done,” is quite a complicated matter. There are tough problems that all governments face, even governments that do not suffer from a paucity of resources. Two of the most pressing problems that most governments face are poverty and inequality. Paradoxically, these problems are prevalent even in countries that are considered advanced. The United States of America is a prime example of this. Poverty and inequality in turn spawn a host of other problems, ranging from health to crime to environmental degradation. Efforts to find solutions to these tough problems would be futile and impoverished without “substantial intellectual capital.” The President recognises that much of that enormous intellectual capital resides in the private sector.
The private sector is driven by economic prospects. When investment opportunities present themselves, the private sector employs its best intellectual capital to capitalise on such opportunities. When economic prospects are not so obvious, the private sector gets creative and displays true entrepreneurship. Of course, all of this is predicated on the rule of law. The rule of law gives confidence, predictability and protection.
During the first 100 days of being in office, the President has not given any reasons for apprehension and disclination on the part of the private sector. On the contrary, the private sector has found so much scope for profitable activities and so much legal guarantee at the same time that it has moved to recognise the President by according him with an ‘A’ grade for his first 100 days of service.
For his part, the President, being both an idealist and a pragmatist, views the private sector not simply from the perspective of proscriptive or prescriptive rights, important as those are. He profoundly appreciates the pre-eminent role of the private sector in nation building. In terms of job creation, the private sector has always been at the forefront. The president understands equally that the ability of the private sector to generate wealth and prosperity for the nation hinges on the kind of policies the Government adopts. A high level of bureaucracy would likely stifle initiatives, which is why the Government is so focused on removing red tape and other bureaucratic hurdles. With the right incentives from the Government, the private sector would be able to put capital and labour to work for themselves and for the economy, generating wealth for themselves, creating jobs for the unemployed, and narrowing the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
The right incentives can be in the form of “public action aimed at activating private initiative” or “the provision of public finance to subsidise privately-run services”. In other words, the Government must provide an environment that is most conducive for businesses, both large and small.
This is precisely what the Government has done in its first 100 days in government. From the beginning, the Government understood that its role in economic growth and human development would have to be complementary, rather than exclusive in nature. The President’s embrace of this truism has played no small part in the decision of the private sector to recognise him as a top leader par excellence.
Complementary should not be confused with secondary. Secondary in the context of our discussion means putting the private sector in the driving seat, giving them unfettered freedom in the realm of investment and resources. History has shown us that the Achilles heel of unregulated business initiatives is inequality, which is the opposite of what the Government is aiming at.
The President sees the private sector “not as an end, but as a means to higher levels of human development.” The private sector, in turn, sees no dichotomy between amassing wealth for itself and enriching the lives of citizens. This perspective has been shaped by the way the President leads. No one should be surprised at the high esteem in which he is held by the Guyana Private Sector. We should all join with the Guyana Private Sector in thanking the President for his brilliant leadership, for that is the meaning of the ‘A’ rating given to him.
Sheik M Ayube