Home Letters The GuyExpo Committee should award Percival Boyce posthumously
I recently received a call from a friend living in Guyana, questioning if I would be assisting in organizing GuyExpo this year. I took pains to explain the following to my goodly friend: that I am happy the current administration has recommenced the staging of this event, and I’m sure it would be immensely successful.
Notwithstanding, I could not help but reflect on my late friend Percival Boyce, GuyExpo Coordinator during the years I’d served as co-Chairman of this national exposition, and the yeoman service he had given towards the success of this initiative.
I take this opportunity to express how deeply saddened I was upon learning of his death. As former Chairman of the Organizing Committee, I say without fear of contradiction that my late friend was, for many years, the main force behind the successful staging of this event. He effectively implemented the decisions of the Organizing Committee, and never failed to carry out those responsibilities.
The late Percival Boyce was the consummate professional, a man extremely dedicated and committed to his work. In fact, this was reflected in his organization of GuyExpo’s cultural programme (supported by the late dynamic committee member Mr. Cultural himself, Lennox Canterbury), which promoted local entertainers and was arguably one of his most successful and memorable contributions.
I could write a book on the experiences I’ve had as co-chairman; however, I will focus on a few memorable ones. For context of this first instance, during one of the stagings of this major trade exposition, I had learned that the Ministry responsible for organizing this annual event did not have the financial resources to stage the event that year. This was brought to my attention by the late coordinator, who indicated that the financial recourses generated from this event was managed by the subject ministry, and not by the Secretariat.
As then co-chairman, I successfully lobbied former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo to advance the committee $20 million with a commitment that we would make a profit of over $50 million. You see, Editor, I could have given that commitment because the late Coordinator and I had done some groundwork, which revealed that in the absence of an Accounts Payable Account, it was difficult to ascertain the authenticity of the bills/invoices submitted for payment after the conclusion of the event. Needless to say, these were all honoured by the late Mr. Boyce in his capacity. This shows the professionalism and temerity of the man who served in that critical position.
In an effort to enhance accountability, I facilitated the donation of three computers (with a user- friendly accounting software installed) to the Secretariat, and recruited three youths who were trained in the use of the accounting system (by another very dedicated gentleman, Mr. Linden Anderson, who sadly has since died). The late Coordinator, who supervised this team, also ensured they were educated on all the aspects associated with staging the largest annual national event held in Guyana pre-2015. The ability to recognize and fulfill the needed capacity building was priceless, and arguably served them well during the execution of their stint, and by extension the GuyExpo.
With this team and efficient system in place, we implemented a Local Purchase System (no expenses could be initiated if an LPO was not generated) during the planning and execution of this event. I and the then Minister of Tourism conducted daily inspection visits wherein we’d receive updated copies of the Accounts Payable schedule for review and discussion with the coordinator. It was the prudent oversight by Mr. Boyce and our team that resulted in the Organizing Committee’s ability to not only repay the $20 million advance granted to the committee (in 2006), but achieved a profit of approximately $46.3 million on the last night of the event that year.
Additionally, for all the subsequent years of coordinating the event, the organizers knew the “profitable status” on the last night of the event. It’s worthwhile to note that all financial resources generated were used to support the programs of the subject ministry, including funding the Secretariat.
One year, I recall, Mr. Boyce’s quick thinking and pro-active intervention averted what could have possibly been a major accident waiting to happen. While on a site visit a day before the exhibition was officially scheduled to be opened (I cannot remember the year), I’d noticed a merry-go-round carousel from the rust that was obviously on the parts of this equipment, and it was clear that it was not adequately maintained. On the advice of the late Mr. Boyce, we invited the owner to a meeting, where he was told to service this children’s ride. Further, the owner was told that he would not be able to operate said equipment without the appropriate insurance policy for the functioning of this type of equipment (the necessary inspection was also conducted by knowledgeable technical personnel).
As fate would have it, during the third night of the exhibition, I was in my late colleague’s office when we heard a loud bang. The sound came from the direction of the ride, and we rushed to the area, which was in darkness. Honestly, the first thought was that children were seriously injured; both my late friend and I were expecting the worst, but God was overlooking His children: only two kids were slightly injured.
We ensured that they received immediate medical treatment. However, their parents did not accept our offer to have the two children transported to the hospital for further medical examination. After some consideration, the Coordinator and I agreed to effect a monetary payment on the request of the family members of the children directly affected by this incident. Needless to say, this ride was never used again for the remaining years that I was co-Chairman.
Editor, it is this type of soundness of character and professional integrity that is etched in my mind when I think of Mr. Boyce and his contribution to the success of this national event.
I also fondly recall the night the Expo had over 50,000 attendees and the difficulty the late Mr. Boyce and I experienced in trying to hold the gate on the far north of the Exhibition Site with approximately fifty persons pushing on the other side trying to get in free. We were about to give up when we noticed the crowd dispersing. Apparently, word got out that Paul Slowe was approaching. We were never so happy to see a Police officer.
These are some of the memories which I’ll always treasure of my late colleague and the hosting of GuyExpo.
I am sure the investment in this event will be significantly greater than in previous years. This is important, since the late coordinator (and Government) were aware that GuyExpo not only showcases Guyanese businesses (small, medium, and large) but booths from other countries were also facilitated (as far as India). While the large turnout to this event served as a vehicle to educating Guyanese and foreigners on the business opportunities and new business ventures.
One of the late coordinator’s qualities that I really admired was his willingness to participate in any activity (outside his scope of work) that would further enhance the success of this event. The Organizing Committee was very interested in ascertaining the positive impact this event had on the participating businesses. The late Mr. Boyce and the committee member with the technical expertise in marketing (mainly exports) led an exercise initiated to periodically follow-up with businesses (especially the small and medium). These exit surveys were to ascertain sale increases primarily due to new customers (both local and overseas markets) joint ventures etc.
It is for these reasons I am advocating that the current GuyExpo Organizing Committee should consider honouring posthumously the memory of this true son of Guyana, Mr. Percival Boyce, former Coordinator of GuyExpo.