The New Today


Institutional changes are necessary for a reset

In last week’s article, I explained how the defeated NNP government dismantled the institutional arrangements that were in place to ensure efficient implementation of the government’s programs and projects. This resulted in a steep decline in the rate of implementation and slowdown in economic activity.

As the second half of their tenure approached, the defeated regime began to panic with increasing pressures from the population. The suspension of the fiscal responsibility Act because of the pandemic gave them an opportunity to spend unchecked.

However, their early decision to dismantle the implementation machinery came back to haunt them as the clique of sycophant senior managers handpicked to lead the implementation process were inept and lacked the capacity to implement the flurry of projects hastily put together to please the electorate.

The litany of ill-prepared and mismanaged projects, including St. George’s Market Square, Molinere Landslip, Digital Transformation, and Western Road Corridor to mention a few under the defeated regime, are alarming, to say the least.

What is interesting is that the same clique of sycophants who presided over and made a mess with these projects are the ones who are now leading important ministries such as Climate Resilience and Transportation.

I was told these were the same ones who lobbied for dismantling the implementation structures that were in place to ensure efficient implementation of capital projects and government programs.

The question is – how can the new government have these persons, who are obviously inept and incompetent in authority and in positions in critical areas such as Climate Resilience, Physical Development, and Finance?

How can the government expect to turn the implementation rate around when the same failed arrangements put in place in Physical Development, such as an ill-conceived implementation unit, continue to exist.

The breakdown of the planning and project management processes directed by these same sycophants under the previous government are at the heart of the problem.

If the government doesn’t recognise that and take decisive action to rebuild the process, the fiasco with capital projects will continue, the implementation rate would remain dismal, growth rate stagnant, and unemployment will continue to rise. This will make it very difficult for the government to get a second term in office.

According to the former Democratic party strategist Lee Atwater, perception is reality, and if the electorate perceive nothing is happening, they will come to see the government as a failure.

The government must understand they have to now own the quagmire that is Molinere landslip and the other stalled projects. If immediate action is not taken to find timely solutions to the problems of these projects, the electorate will come to perceive the government as doing nothing.

As mentioned in last week’s article, politics is about perception. It’s the one thing that gets people elected and governments defeated.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon the government to make the necessary institutional changes to strengthen sector planning and project cycle management capability in the public service.

The disjointed system created by these sycophants where they operated in silos, each has their own demi-god, must be dismantled and one similar to what existed before where there were more coordination and information sharing within the context of a structured planning process must be created if the government is to step up the implementation rate.

In the absence of a properly functioning planning and implementation process, the new Ministry of Implementation is yet another layer of complexity on a system that is broken, not functioning properly and ineffective.

The new government does not have to look far to address the situation. They should go back to the system and structures that existed before the “old geezer,” his band of misfits and clique of incompetent sycophants created this nightmare of bureaucratic inefficiency to further their corrupt ways, hoard power and massage their little egos.

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The planning system that emerged after the demise of the revolution and further strengthened during the comprehensive public sector reform initiatives undertaken as part of the series of economic structural adjustments of the 1980s and early 1990s should be revisited and strengthened where necessary to bring proper structure and process to the system of chaos and disorganisation that currently exist in the planning and project implementation space.

The “old geezer” and his band of misfits are no longer there. However, the clique of inept sycophants such as the South America snake and silly looking bespectacled one must not be allowed to compromise further the system.

It is suspected that their modus operandi is to create a mirage of competence and indispensability and play up to Ministers to baffle them in order to cover up their ineptitude.

However, the Cabinet of Ministers must not allow these sycophants, and those who sponsor them to “pull wool over their eyes” for their track record is as clear as day for all to see.

Who presided over the Ministry of Physical Development when the ill- conceived planning unit was set up after the well-functioning Project Coordination Unit (PCU) mentioned in the last budget debate by Hon Lenox Andrews, was dismantled?

Who presided over the long delays in the Market Square project, mismanaged contract and corruption in St. Patrick’s road project and inordinate delays in getting the Western Road Corridor design study done and the St. John’s River Mitigation project started?

The result of this sycophant colossal failure to manage has resulted in Grenada losing tens of millions of dollars from the World Bank for the St. John’s River Mitigation project, millions of pounds from the British government for the Western Main Road Corridor, and millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles and equipment that had to be turned over to government on completion of the St. Patrick’s project.

All of these sycophants have similar traits of mismanagement and incompetence as it relates to projects and program implementation.

The new government can’t rely on these persons or the ill-conceived institutional structures they created to implement its programs and projects.

It is advised that the government revisit the institutional arrangements that were put in place to manage planning and public sector investments during the early reform period undertaken as part of the economic structural adjustment in the late 80s and early 90s and strengthen it by appropriately incorporating the new Ministry of Implementation into the framework.

Serious consideration should be given in the expected Cabinet reshuffle to proper alignment of Ministries that would help to strengthen the planning and project implementation process.

For instance, economic, sustainable development and planning should be a standalone Ministry because of the key functions and the central coordination nature of planning and development functions across the public sector.

The disjointed, scattered project planning apparatus that currently exists after the dismantling of the PCU should be brought under a central coordination structure in a Ministry of Economic, Sustainable Development and Planning.

While the Ministry of Implementation should take the lead in ensuring coordination, the project implementation function across the public sector to ensure constant monitoring and implementation, bottle necks are dealt with in a structured manner.

If the government fails to address the dismally low implementation rate, the delivery of its programs and projects will suffer and the electorate will not be in line to give them another term notwithstanding making good on some of its campaign promises.

Special Correspondent