After five (5) years of APNU/AFC reign, followed by five months of electoral turmoil and conspiracies, Guyana breathed a sigh of relief on August 2, when President Irfaan Ali was sworn into office as the ninth President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. It has been five weeks since the country’s rightfully elected President Irfaan Ali took office. Since then, he has encountered a myriad of problems in dealing with the almost bankrupt economy, crumbling infrastructure, the COVID 19 pandemic, and most recently the brutal murders of the Henry cousins, Haresh Singh of Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice (WCB) and Pettipal Hargobin of Bath Settlement, WCB. Not to mention the ensuing riots, vicious and barbaric assaults on innocent residents in and out of the region, and the callous destruction of vehicles and houses.
President Ali’s Administration seems to revolve around improving the economy and the lives of the masses, reopening of the three of the four sugar estates shuttered by the previous Government and the upgrading of the infrastructure. Dr Irfaan Ali should be applauded for some of the bold actions his Administration has taken to combat the COVID 19 pandemic, and to provide assistance in the form of food hampers and a cash payment of $25,000 per household as allotted in the budget. The increase of old-age pension from $19,500 to $25,000, the removal of VAT on several items and the exclusion of senior citizens from paying water bills have vastly improved the image of his Administration.
However, the applause for President Ali and his Government would be more resounding if His Excellency shifts into a Promethean approach with incisive and new methods. The “don’t rock the boat” mindset must be discarded. Many have asserted that huge sums of money would be wasted by this Government in its quest to resurrect the bankrupt GuySuCo, maintain the two security State agencies, SOCU and SARA and the huge salaries paid to some officials appointed by the APNU+AFC Government for doing little or nothing.
President Ali must address the enormous amount of time being wasted as a result of long traffic lines; its parallel is the ever long wait in line to pay public utility bills, obtain birth or death certificates and land titles and in other areas such as Customs, Deeds Registry, Courts and a litany of bureaucratic entanglements. Most of the above-mentioned issues should be viewed as straightforward procedures, but not for bureaucrats. It should be noted that these long waits in lines have and continued to result in a significant loss in production due to the fact that a large number of persons who spend hours waiting in lines are workers. President Ali should establish a task force aimed at creating an efficient and competent public/civil service in order to end this terrible ordeal on the people and enhance the production output of the country.
President Ali’s Administration should embark on the task to reduce the long hours being spent at the public hospitals throughout the country for medical treatment, but more so at the Georgetown Public Hospital, the nation’s largest referral hospital. To this end, the Government should employ more competent and adequate medical staff at the public hospitals, including more qualified doctors, nurses and technicians and have more modern medical equipment. Such an approach, if adopted immediately by the Ali Administration, will go a far way in reducing the waiting time at hospitals and saving lives. Loss of human lives have become a daily phenomenon at the hospitals and have remained unabated.
The fact that many have and continued to die from simple infectious diseases, childbirth and other trifle illnesses at the hospitals have become an accepted norm in our societal culture, but more importantly with no repercussions for the medical staff. It is the responsibility for President Ali to act immediately to reduce or end the ongoing mayhem at the public hospitals and to solve all of the aforementioned problems. The adage “new brooms sweep clean” should hold true for this Administration. Whatever course President Ali takes in the coming months and years, as a people, we must hold him accountable.