We can still obtain a useful response
Guyana Chronicle
December 20, 2001

If Eric Johnson (No shortage of accounting professionals, GC, Dec.19) carefully reviews my letter reacting to Christopher Ram's report on the ccounting system of the government ministries and departments, he would see I was addressing the deeply disturbing allegations in that report.

I was not the one who made the allegations, so I did not need to provide evidence on anything Mr. Ram stated about the problems for them being sourced, in part, to a shortage of accounting professionals.

And the fact that the report was published on December 2, last, followed by two weeks without anyone explaining or refuting Mr. Ram's contentions, gave me reason to wonder if there was even an element of truth in the report. No where in Mr. Johnson's letter did he mention Mr. Christopher Ram, the source of the revelations.

Before responding to my letter, Mr. Johnson should have apprised himself of the allegations in Mr. Ram's report in order to see where I was coming from with my recommendation for contracting out the job of correcting the alleged problems. It also would have been just as worth his effort if he could have responded in the letters columns to the report itself with his own evidence that would have contradicted Mr. Ram's charges.

In an emerging democracy, such as Guyana's, some people tend to take for granted the benefits of public information and public expression, but I strongly urge folks to indulge themselves in the practice of participating in any activity or forum, even if it is a debate or discussion, that concerns our country's socioeconomic situation.

Mr. Ram, a well-known business executive in Guyana, has been doing just that with his contributions to the Stabroek News' Business Page. And it is people like him who, despite personal political leanings or beliefs, contribute to meaningful debate by breaking down for the layman the more complex issues of government and business. No one, including the government, has a monopoly on information that should be in the public domain, because information is what people use to make decisions that affect their daily lives and plan for the future.

It is precisely what Mr. Johnson did, therefore, by intoning that government did not ask (me) for advice so I should not have offered any, that worries me a lot. Guyanese should not have to wait for government to ask for advice (which it rarely, if ever, does) before we take the initiative so to do.

Maybe if the government and the people had such a warm, reciprocal relationship in the seventies and eighties we would not have been in this mess that Mr. Ram is now talking about. It was our deafening silence or our inability to be heard/read in the midst of allegations of wrong doing by government operatives that helped sustain the mess we now have. But thanks to our emerging democracy, we can and we must participate, even without being invited by the government.

Patricia Cummings' "Development all around" (Guyana Chronicle, Dec. 19) contains useful information about what government is doing, and that is what information is supposed to do, provide perspective and guide our decision making process. Maybe we still can obtain a proper, useful and informative response to Mr. Ram's revelations, or else this may be an embarrassing problem later on.
Emile Mervin,
Brooklyn, New York