THERE have been some interesting revelations from the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) following a recent decision to send off a number of staff. Letting staff go is generally not an easy decision to make, more so, in this very challenging COVID-19 times. Given that, there must be compelling reasons for the GWI to take the path it has announced.
Judging from what is in the public domain, clearly, this decision could not have been made overnight and was driven by prior interventions. From what has been reported, the staffing at the entity is bloated, believably, deliberately by the previous administration. The issue of bloating the Public Service in general, by the previous government, came to light after the change of administration last August.
Many reports of this were in and continue to make the news. Even more shocking is the suspicion that the bloating of staff may have occurred after the no-confidence motion (NCM) of December, 2018. While analyses may be ongoing on the timing of its occurrence, what seems irrefutable is the purposeful act by the previous government to bloat staffing in the Public Service.
The impact is telling. One, persons, more than likely without any related skill set were just added to various agencies. Secondly, that would have obviously created serious financial burdens on those agencies some of which are challenged to provide effective and efficient services. Thirdly, the provision of these said services may have been stymied or almost halted given that crucial financial resources were diverted to support party affiliates.
When the impact is examined, there appears a direct nexus between the bloating of the staffing and increased challenges to provide adequate services. While providing jobs is vital to sustain livelihoods and the economy, it has to be done in a structured and visionary manner to avoid strain and even the collapse of related infrastructure. With that in mind, it becomes clearer why the GWI is now faced with the challenge in question. Also, given that particular scenario, the GWI is not the only entity facing that challenge. The reality of that holistic impact therefore becomes frightening.
It is in that context the escapades into the realms of extravagance by the previous government cannot be dismissed. As a matter of fact, it was just one instance of such; the almost immediate and massive increase in salaries for themselves while claiming a lack of financial resources to implement same for the Public Service and steep increases in budgets for dietary needs for the various agencies, are just a few other examples. But that was just within recent years. Historically, the major party in the previous coalition administration and which was, in reality, the government, has been hallmarked by extravagance.
The crippling effect of that penchant for excessiveness then, was the eventual bankruptcy of the country. During that period, essential services, including healthcare and the provision of basic foods, became severely depleted and non-existent, respectively. Its most recent act of extravagance saw some thirty million dollars reported as being spent by the GWI on a party for staff and describing same as an “investment” in the employees.
One can understand training and other long-term welfare-related issues as being investments, instead, the wilful bloating of the Public Service, as alluded, has not only led to a deprivation of vital financial resources to help in the improvement of related services, but has placed the present government in an awkward position.
With the need to frontally address the issue and to implement corrective mechanisms, inevitably, staffers have to be let go. Naturally, fingers will point at the current government and the opposition will not miss a beat even though they are the source of the present dilemma. Expectation for their extravagance in criticism is rife. History shows they will not disappoint.