The Vice President and the President of Guyana are commended for establishing an office (presumably at the Presidential Secretariat) to address complaints or issues facing the public (individuals and communities). Such a feedback office was badly needed. I long ago suggested this idea to government officials. The Vice President has seen the need for it. This is a masterstroke of Vice President Jagdeo. It has shown why he is considered a superior political strategist and tactician than anyone in the opposition. In fact, he is probably the best thinker in the country in conjuring up political strategies to win office and retain power.
The preceding government had a weak connection with the public. Jagdeo beats the former government and current opposition at the political game plan. It will win the VP and the government points.
Unlike the opposition when it was in office, Jagdeo is winning the PR race on governance. He would never have closed down government owned factories or industries where thousands are employed. He would have known he would lose popular support. He is hands on and on the ground pursing policies that benefit large numbers of people. Unlike his predecessor, he engages the public at the grass roots level.
On the issue of receiving complaints from the public, for decades going back to the 1980s, I traveled repeatedly at regular intervals throughout Guyana (on my own funding) to conduct opinion surveys and was regularly saddled with complaints of voters or the public about neglect by their elected MPs and or Regional Councillors and or NDCs rep. Somehow people felt/feel that I had (have) clout and can resolve their issues by bringing them to the attention of government (current and previous). People did not and do not seem to understand that I can’t help them with their issues. I can’t even get my issues resolved as politicians generally don’t pay heed to the public once they are in office until it is election time. This is political realty everywhere except in developed countries. In the US, politicians fear their constituents – representatives could get voted out if they neglect concerns of constituents. In Guyana, I mingled with the public to solicit their opinions. The government (all governments) needs a similar figure to get (objective, honest) views of the public on how it (or a representative) is performing and how it (he/she) is viewed by the public as well as an account of complaints and outstanding issues of the public.
In a recent press conference, the VP said some 44 issues (complaints) he received on the Essequibo Coast have been resolved. The public generally lack confidence in other party or government figures to resolve their issues. They prefer to directly engage the VP who they feel immediately attend to their complaints. Other figures tend to sit on concerns.
With the reopening of the Morning Glory Inc. popularly known as the cereal plant in the region, a number of employment opportunities will become available.
The VP is politically savvy unlike those on the other side. Instead of closing factories as the opposition did when it was in government, Jagdeo opens them. Instead of firing people, he hires them or keeps them on payroll. He announced the availability of 800 grants for small (self or family businesses in Essequibo and received 2,000 applications. Inevitably, the VP will use his political astuteness and increase the number of grant applications to accommodate bona fide submissions.
The VP’s approval numbers would only go up with policies that dole out benefits to deserving public or create jobs for the unemployed.
By Dr. Vishnu Bisram