BY MICHAEL YOUNGE
SINCE its accession to office in August 2020, the Irfaan Ali-Administration has vowed that it will be different, not repeat the glaring mistakes of the APNU+AFC Government, and work tirelessly on improving the livelihood of its citizen.
Also, Ministers of Government have been hard at work correcting the policy deficiencies that existed by the previous administration while at the same time engineering new and wholistic policies that are well-thought out to meet the current and future needs of the populace.
This is mixed by them going to join the other Government Members of Parliament in the National Assembly of Guyana where they are expected to pass the requisite laws and amend the necessary legislation for a smooth policy trajectory, and again meeting the needs of the people.
Perhaps, the Office of the Prime Minister plays the most integral role in this respect because of the structure of government. It has divided up the responsibility and passed on the bit that deals with public communications and information to the Minister of Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy.
He is perhaps the glue that has the ability to hold the government together as far as informing citizens of what the government is doing and intends to do, as well as keeping them fully sensitised about issues that the country faces as a whole. He must also have a real plan for the sector as far as plans and policies are concerned.
In his budget speech of March this year, the minister went at length to point out the government’s vision for the sector coupled with investments that will be made. The minister pointed out, laboriously, how the State media was being used for the benefit of the political party in power, and how qualified as well as competent people could not [get] a simple job if they didn’t pledge allegiance to the APNU+AFC Government.
This was quickly addressed and largely reduced. Now, it would appear that the focus is on content and proliferation to the masses as the minister has his eyes set on improving the coverage of various national events, government’s agenda for the people, and other things.
This is very commendable in this age of information communications and technology. The minister must stress the need to get and keep a track of the way that persons are communicating now if he wants to achieve success with being the first one to properly understand the real impacts of information communication technologies. The State media must use facebook, twitter and Instagram as well as other types of platforms to get its messaging across. It must be highly interactive with the social media platforms or new media as it is called.
The State agencies of the Chronicle, National Communications Network, National Printers Limited and the Guyana Broadcasting Agency must be further modernised with cross-cutting and edge-of-line equipment and resources to ply their trade effectively and disseminating information to the public. The staff must come on par with the new working order or they will have to be changes where necessary. And broadcasters must come in line with the vision that Minister McCoy has eloquently adumbrated for the sector.
Perhaps, the minister would be best suited occasioning a plan which would be brought to him with how government communications could be more effective among agencies when a panel is devised and set up. Training and development opportunities could also be looked at, and unbiased recommendations made to the relevant agencies made to bolster the effectiveness and quality of State media communications as well as other media.
The truth is, the people of Guyana want to be served exclusive content about the government and the country, content that is unbiased, frank, factual and true. The amount of filtering and coaxing the information must be significantly reduced if this is to be achieved. And access to information must not be heavily guarded out of fear that it going to start up a revolution against the government if they are doing the right thing and they are certainly in the right areas.
And President Ali is on the right track giving the media unfettered access to him and his agenda, unlike the President before him. The President, certainly, should keep his post-Cabinet engagements or press conferences with the media corps because he will need those partners to get his message across to people who don’t trust his government.
Minister McCoy is doing a great job but to whom much is given, much more is required as is the case with all the ministers. He must rise to the occasion and meet some of the challenges head-on because the previous administration did not at all.