(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 27 Sept 2005)
When I stumbled on the story of President Jagdeo’s appointment as the next Chairman of the World Bank, IMF Board of Governors – I almost fell off of my sofa. This is simply wonderful and I would love to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the President.
I did literally stumble on this story as I was casually browsing the paper and thinking I had already covered most of the important news of the day. That such an important story was buried on page 29 of the Sunday Edition of the Kaieteur News caused me to furrow my eyebrows in a quizzical pondering for a brief moment, then I realised that the announcement probably came in late and thus its unseemly placement.
However, the placement of the story was not what caused me to consciously force the cogs in my brain to work extra hard. Usually when I do this, I can resolve the issue or problem at hand and move on with life as usual. Conversely, this particular puzzle is not proving to be as easy, so I decided to solicit the help of PPP Big Dog, Robert Persaud.
I suppose that after my rant last week, it would be highly inappropriate to ask for Mr. Persaud’s help since he is probably a bit miffed at me right now. Therefore, I have decided to offer a sincere apology before petitioning him for any assistance.
I am hoping that he has a big heart and will be able to overlook my harsh response since I am offering this apology with the utmost humility and sincerity. I just hate for us to get off on such a bad note right from the start. What do you say Mr. Persaud? Can we be friends? I can only assume that because you do not allow trite interactions to cloud your ability to be gracious, that you have accepted my extended hand of friendship.
I feel so much better now; a burden has been lifted and I am very excited about our newly formed camaraderie. It’s like I told Freddie just the other day, it just doesn’t pay to be so harsh with others. Now don’t assume that I will not point out certain faux pas here and there, as I love to do with Freddie. After all, what good is a friend who doesn’t help you through the hard times, eh?
However, I do promise that we can talk through these issues and I will extend to you the same type of respect afforded to sweet and sensitive Freddie. I do feel like it would be only right to give you a pet nickname too (I don’t want you to feel left out). I thought about Big Dog, but the other big dogs may get jealous. And you cannot be sweet and sensitive – that is Freddie’s thing. Did you know he loves steamy movies?
I got it! How about smart and sharp Robert? Yep, I think that fits you well. Now don’t gush, it’s not becoming a man in your position (and it dampens the whole smart and sharp persona). So here we are, smart and sharp Robert. We have dispensed with the necessary apologies and established a solid friendship. What shall we talk about?
Oh, I know! Let’s talk about the President’s appointment as Chair of the World Bank and IMF Board of Governors. How exciting is it that His Excellency is not only the first Guyanese to sit in this position, but the first Head-of-State from anywhere in the Caribbean? Guyana certainly has good reason to be proud this week.
However, smart and sharp Robert, I am in quite a quandary about this whole thing. So as a friend, would you mind helping me out? GINA detailed a list of qualifications that are usually applied to candidates being considered for this position, but I wasn’t too sure which of those credentials helped the President attain this surprise appointment. Would you be so kind as to share that information with me?
The guidelines specified that candidates considered for this position “should ideally be a member of International Financial Corporation, International Development Agency, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute, in addition to being a member of the IMF and the World Bank.” Is Guyana currently a member of any of these groups?
According to the Chronicle, other prerequisites are that “the Chairman's country should be in good standing in the World Bank Group and the IMF in terms of cooperation, participation, and its financial relations. For instance, a country that has overdue financial obligations to one or both institutions would not be seen as a viable candidate. Good standing is also necessary in the international community, and the person who is expected to be the Chairman should be widely respected among finance and development officials.” Which of these requisites does the President meet?
I apologise for my ignorance in this matter, but this is information that I would love to attain and that the people of Guyana should know so they can be proud of this distinguished appointment for their President.
Honestly, this seemed an almost improbable move by these financial big wigs. Isn’t this the same institution that just two years ago released a report that said Guyana was on the brink of being a failed state and was in a “crisis of government”? Why on earth would an institution appoint the leader of a country that, according to its own report, is in a crisis of government to chair such an important position?
Even more so, it seems the President was chosen over other Caribbean presidents who have turned their nation’s stale economy from being dependent on colonial goods such as sugar into vibrant markets for oil and tourism. As such, this is truly a notable event considering that we are still struggling in this area.
To accentuate this remarkable feat even more, it should be noted that His Excellency was trained in a communist state under what I can only assume would be communist economics. So for him to be appointed to this position in an institution that is primarily capitalistic is almost hard to comprehend.
That all of this comes on the heels of a recent visit to China and quickly developing relationships with Cuba and Venezuela is also very interesting, don’t you think? I suppose in the end, my real question is this - do you think this is a significant gesture of goodwill to move Guyana’s focus away from its current course of solidifying the socialist stance that was only recently championed by the government?
To be sure, these Western countries have been very good to Guyana – doling out aid to the tune of a billion US dollars and now even dismissing a large portion of the same debt. I’m just wondering if any one else sees this as a concerted effort to shift the government’s focus? And if so, what do you expect the response to be?
Whatever the reasons, this appointment is good for Guyana and a great opportunity for His Excellency, so there should be dancing in the streets and singing in the showers. Thanks for this little talk, smart and sharp Robert. You are an apt listener and I promise to respond in like manner when you need to bounce around some ideas or questions. After all, that’s what friends are for!