Home Letters Transformational Leadership: a most befitting characterisation
On the elections campaigns trails, the PPP articulated a set of national goals and promised to fulfill them if chosen to replace the corrupt APNU/AFC regime. Most Guyanese, desperately desirous of escaping APNU/AFC’s strangulation, enthusiastically endorsed the PPP’s vision, giving the party the mandate to form the new government. It has been five months since the PPP took the reins of government-would have been much longer but for the obstructionist conduct of APNU/AFC-and Guyanese are witnessing a phenomenon that is rare by any standards. This unusual development is addressing serious long-standing issues with a level of decisiveness and urgency that is arguably without a precedent in Guyana. This is recognized by everyone except the most die-hard supporters of APNU/AFC.
Frontally confronting and solving critical issues almost immediately upon assuming office could be considered the litmus test of good governance, especially in the light of a pulverized economy and an empty treasury -two of the legacies of the previous regime. Paralyzed by a state of stagnation and misrule under an inept APNU/AFC, the citizens of this beautiful land would consider even modest improvements as a beacon that offers hope for their immediate future. Having had their dreams crushed and their livelihood taken away by the previous government, people are desperate and understandably want quick solutions to their problems.
Not only are some of their most pressing problems being resolved; many are also surprised at how quickly the Irfaan Ali-led Government is moving to ease their burdens and are speechless over the magnitude of improvements that is taking place. To the relief and delight of citizens, many developmental projects are being initiated. For example, hundreds of (house) lots have been allocated across the regions, setting the stage for a boom in the home construction industry. Scholarships are being awarded to encourage higher learning and enhance the quality of education. It should be noted that many of these initiatives are taking place with the collaboration of citizens. The practice of giving citizens the opportunity “to develop and articulate their own visions of what the nature of government should be about” is one of the seminal accomplishments of the President.
These undertakings are not pursued in a fiscally unsound manner. They are instead embarked upon with full budgetary considerations in mind-expenditures vs revenues. As we know, spending without the ability to balance expenditure against revenues is not consistent with sound economic theories. This may have certain short-term benefits but may create serious problems for future generations. In other words, the reinvigoration of the economy, which has already created many jobs, is not at the expense of a market economy which is the foundation of the government’s economic policies.
Revitalizing the economy is occurring instead within the framework of Keynesian economics, which generally considers a market economy as crucial for development, but also advocates “an active role for government intervention during recession and depressions.” While the genesis of the poverty that Guyanese are slowly emerging out of has nothing to do with market forces or a market economy that would warrant the application of Keynesian economics theory, but rather with gross incompetence and corruption on the part of the previous government, the President, in a master stroke of strategic leadership, has injected billions into the economy in order to provide the much-needed impetus for economic growth.
An example of direct government intervention that will have the effect of stimulating the economy, thereby easing some of the hardships on the people, is the recent announcement of “a one-off grant of $25,000 to all Public Servants including stall of Central Government, Statutory Bodies, Subvention Agencies, Public Corporations, Government pensioners and staff of the University of Guyana.” It is understood that GUYSUCO workers will also benefit from this policy. This is in addition to the $25,000 COVID-19 relief that has already been given to each household. All of this by a government that took office only five months ago without anything in the treasury. However, stewardship of the country demands prudence as doling out monies can have unintended consequences. Here is where the genius of the President comes into focus. Economic decisions are made on the basis both current and projected earnings. If current revenues do not suffice to economically justify these policies, there is no need for alarm. Future earnings from oil and gas, from an enhanced agriculture sector and from other industries will far exceed present expenditures. A deep understanding of this principle is one of the stellar qualities of the President. Hence, the bold steps he is taking.
Lives are simply being transformed at a pace that impartial citizens would have no problems considering as mind-boggling. Lots of this has to do with the President’s conception of governance. The President knows that the crucible for real action on behalf of the people is putting the interests of citizens above everything else. The qualitative change we witness is also attributable to the “fix it now” approach on the part of the President. The President clearly recognizes that certain issues cannot be deferred to a future date for resolution. He appreciates that this unconventional approach is the antidote to the inherent weaknesses of bureaucracy, which have exasperated the frustrations of the Guyanese people. How else to characterize the President other than as a transformational leader?
Sheik M Ayube