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A closer look at the transition three months after the elections – Part III

The one hundred days achievements have been outlined by the new government and although the defeated regime is contesting some of the achievements it is correct for the administration to take credit since final implementation took place in the last three months.

The defeated regime wants to have its cake and eat it too. They can’t on the one hand praise the new government for continuing with projects started during their reign and at the same time chastise them for implementing initiatives that were announced but didn’t commence during their tenure.

The question is – why are they so anxious to heap praise on the government for continuing with projects yet throw scorn on their hundred days achievements? The Prime Minister ought to be careful with a few of those large projects fully funded by local government funds.

As stated before, though it was prudent to continue with projects started by the defeated government, a few of those projects in particular larger ones like the one implemented by a Trinidadian firm, that are funded fully by government funds should be looked at very closely.

In the first case, because these projects are not funded by international donor agencies they were not subjected to the rigorous procurement process in hiring of consultants and contractors that are associated with multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

There are many question marks on these projects in particular where contract prices have increased by over one hundred percent after the contract was signed. How could the value of contracts move from around forty five million after contracts were signed to now over one hundred million dollars when there is much difficulty in implementing one road?

How could this happen? Not when highly competent, experienced Chief Technical Officers such as Oscar Phillip, George Fletcher and Permanent Secretary Otto George, men of integrity, were at that Ministry. However, when inexperienced sycophant loyalists void of integrity are placed in positions to do the bidding of the geezer can you expect anything better?

The same public officers who presided over badly written contracts and questionable procurement processes are the same persons who continue to be entrusted with responsibility to implement these projects and monitor the same contracts.

This is one of the problems of the transition, public officers who in performance of their duties displayed gross misconduct and incompetence are being allowed to remain in the same positions and continue the litany of bad advice to the government.

Weak capacity and having “square pegs in round holes” will severely hamper implementation of the government’s transformational agenda. Instead of identifying four pillars, economic transformation, citizens engagement, environmental management, governance and institutional strengthening or five if foreign affairs is included then a better approach would be to identify four or five  sectors and focus on implementing transformational initiatives, programs and projects that would transform the sector and change the way it functions.

During the election campaign, problems in agriculture, health, education and the environment were highlighted on the platform during public meetings and rallies. Would it not be an opportunity now in office to thoroughly change the situation of those sectors?

Last week’s article with the same title identified a number of transformational initiatives that could help transform the agricultural sector, the digital economy sector and change the way how economic policy decisions are made.

The pandemic not only exposed deep seated structural problems in the health, education, and agricultural sectors but created new problems and challenges that will exacerbate the already worsening situation in these sectors. It is therefore prudent to address those problems and challenges by seeking to fundamentally transform how these sectors function.

The transformational agenda would emerge from prioritisation of sectors in need of urgent intervention because of the plethora of problems and challenges that exist within those sectors, their importance to development of the country; and the transformational initiatives, programs and projects that are identified to improve the situation of the sectors and fundamentally change how they function.

There must be a major reset in mindset and behaviour and a performance infrastructure consisting of competent human capacity, processes and analytical tools that must work in concert to ensure effective execution and delivery of the transformational agenda.

If the public service is to play a central role for the transformational effort and oversee implementation of the agenda there must be competent human capacity to drive the process. Currently, the public service doesn’t have sufficient capacity and public servants that are capable within the service continue to be marginalised and maligned.

The current situation in the Ministry of Physical Development is seen across all the ministries. A closer look at Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Health, Economic Development and Environment would reveal serious lack of human capacity and technical competence in those ministries to develop and implement a transformational agenda.

The most difficult part of any transformation is not identifying what to do, how to do it and sadly as evidenced with the recently concluded 2023 Budget consultations, capacity is lacking in the area of how to do it.

The transition team appears not to be aware of this and the urgency to get the required human capacity in place to set up a performance infrastructure made up of the right people and create institutional changes required to enable successful advancement of the transformational agenda.

As stated before, if the senior management team is not properly designed with capable senior public servants to lead the transformational process and competent senior technical officers to identify and come up with the transformational initiatives that would fundamentally transform the sectors, the new government will not be able to make good on its campaign promise to pursue a transformational agenda.

The many missteps and hiccups seen recently are asymptomatic of a transition in crisis and in need of direction and focus.

In the July 8th article entitled, “Mr. Prime Minister, Please get the Transition Process Right”, a call was made for him to tame the impulses of his advisors who may use their position to malign, bad mind and seek to grind axe with persons that are being considered for positions because his goal should be to put together the most competent experienced team of administrators.

From all indications he has not heeded that call. Moreover, although there are some good persons on the transition team others are bent on setting themselves up as “kingmakers” and “gatekeepers” promoting their family and friends for positions while others are allowing their friendship with NNP big wigs to cloud their judgement.

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For instance the transition team member who said to her NNP big wig friend after Kerryne James and Ron Redhead were announced as candidates, “Kerryne and Ron never worked a day in their lives, why don’t they go and look for work rather than getting into politics – NDC is a waste of time” is now advising the government on transition.

There are those chameleons who came on the scene just before the elections, never raised a finger in the preceding years, in fact criticised Kem Jones who led the battle against the NNP as a conman but are now on the Transition team protecting their NNP sycophants and loyalists friends in the public service and labeling his call to drain the swamp a witch hunt.

It is no wonder why the other side is getting “ball by ball” coverage of discussions in the Transition team and Cabinet. Mr. Prime Minister, your Transition team is porous and your government is at great risk. It is deja vu all over again, 2008 to 2013 all over.

The transition is at risk because there are those who are bent on protecting sycophant senior managers and other senior persons while they malign competent experienced senior officers who are being recommended for positions.  They are prepared to overlook the dearth of capacity and capabilities in the public service in pursuit of their own selfish desires.

The budget consultations, and the litany of missteps laid bare the absence of capable persons in the service at senior management and technical levels who know how to undertake a transformative agenda yet some of these people on the Transition team are prepared to gamble with the People’s victory by trying to use the Public Service Commission (PSC) as a scapegoat when in fact letters of appointment by the PSC clearly state that public officers are liable to transfer to an equivalent position within the service and personal contracts have exit clauses.

Look at how long it took to correct a wrong and return Dr. Walters to the position of Director of Nadma in spite of the July 8th article mentioning Disaster Management as an urgent risk because of the hurricane season.

During that time four tropical depressions that could have developed into strong tropical systems passed over or close to the island and Grenada was without a disaster manager.

Members of the Transition team and those advisors who are not minded to heed the people’s call for genuine change and adhere to promises on the election platform for promotions and placement of public officers to be done on merit and competence must be unmasked before irreparable damage is done that will create the conditions for return of the geezer.

NDC supporters must not allow their victory to be appropriated by a selfish bad minded few, but need to get up and get and make their voices heard loud and clear in Town Hall meetings, on radio and televisions programs and in constituency group meetings.

Look at how Scholar was treated – he only knew at the ninety ninth hour he was being sent back to ICT, a position he was banished to by the old geezer. You have a sycophant incompetent senior manager in Youth, Sports, and Culture while a cultural icon who has broad knowledge and appeal with stakeholders in the cultural entertainment sector and can form a transformative dynamic with other icons like Livingston Nelson, Black Wizard and others to transform the sector is being sent back to rot in a position he has little experience in and knowledge of.

The case of Mervin Haynes and Isaac Baghwan highlights the problem with the transition. Senior experienced and competent public officers who know how to undertake transformative initiatives and can make a significant contribution to advancing the transformational agenda are being left to languish while incompetent senior managers who don’t know are in positions that require them to lead the transformation.

This was clearly revealed during the budget consultation process and will show itself again when the budget is presented. Others like Custom Officer Perrotte are left to waste in positions that they were not trained for or have experience in, and have to continue to do nothing but just sitting on a desk.

Rather than preside over decisions by these incompetent sycophants who enabled flawed processes in the first place, like the one from Physical Development that caused a second addendum to be signed effectively increasing a contract price from around forty three million to just over one hundred million Easter Caribbean dollars despite difficulties in getting one road completed.

The litany of missteps in other ministries is a clear indication of weak capacity to pursue the transformational agenda as evidenced with the budget consultation.

The Prime Minister must show principled leadership by sticking to his promise to promote persons based on competence to make sure the public service has a performance infrastructure made up of the right people to set the new government up for success.

Real transformation can only happen when the leadership embraces the ideals of holistic change in how the organisation is run.

According to Peter Drucker who is considered the Father of Modern Management, real leadership is based on principles, on mission and performance and not on charisma.

The Prime Minister and members of the Transition team must demonstrate principled leadership, fully embrace the mission to transform and change, consider performance and competence as a yardstick when making decisions on personnel and design of the administration of governance.

The new Chairman of Gravel and Concrete must be emulated for embracing the mission to transform and change by quickly dispensing of the two sycophants “wanna be” managers at Gravel and Concrete since that organisation is in dire need of transformative leadership.

Ninety days have now passed and the transition process doesn’t appear to have set the government up for success as was called for in the July 8th article. Instead the transformative agenda is seriously at risk and the government can be described as stuttering with the litany of gaffes, missteps and blunders.

The gloves are coming off and all the chameleons, opportunists, and NNP moles will be unmasked in due course.

NDC massive who sacrificed a lot and endured victimisation, ridicule and harassment must not allow their hard earned victory and call for change to be appropriated by a cabal of opportunists. Make your voices heard now before it’s too late and conditions that would facilitate return of the geezer is entrenched.

These people must all know, “the pen is mightier than the sword and a malicious tongue”.

Special Correspondent