Government will not be providing the $600M bailout requested by City Hall according to Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan in Berbice on Friday during a meeting with Mayors and Councilors of the Three Municipalities- Rosehall, Corriverton and New Amsterdam.
Bulkan in a statement from the Government Information News Agency (GINA) asserted that “This $600M bailout that we all have read about in the newspapers, where that particular council is looking for that support, what I can say…and from my own understanding and the limited current engagement that I have had with colleagues in the administration, is that, I do not think that there is any appetite on the part on the central government to be favorably disposed towards that request.”
However, the Minister noted that the alternative of seeking commercial sources of financing will be suggested to the Municipality.
During a Statutory Meeting held on November 14, 2016, at City Hall, the Mayor and City Council indicated that the Council with approach Central Government, more so the Minister of Communities for a $600M “bail out” be provided to assist in the payment of outstanding debt and salaries.
For quite a while now, the M&CC have been accused of being cash strapped, and on multiple occasions, work around the city had to be halted, since the Municipality was unable to pay workers.
The Kitty Market is one such example, as it was slated to be completed by Guyana’s Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebrations in May, and then halted due to insufficient funds. Construction subsequently continued and the new date of completion was set for November 1 of this year. However, it has been announced that work has halted yet again, and the market will not be completed until next year.
During the meeting in Berbice, the Councillors had raised the concern that Georgetown seems to be the only Council enjoying the largesse of central government.
Mayor of New Amsterdam, Kurt Wynter had voiced the concern that City Hall would have received from Central Government $300M, just after the General and Regional Election of May 2015, and would soon be asking for $600M more.
He noted this, whilst pointing out that his municipality is still to hear from the Government on the approximately $137M proposal it submitted, to help cover the restoration of the drainage infrastructure in New Amsterdam.
Wynter called for Central Government to “stop focusing all its attention on Georgetown and to start focusing on the other municipalities,” noting that “Georgetown is not Guyana.”
Minister Bulkan however, advised Wynter and the other Region Six municipal Councillors present at the engagement that instead of bailout, the administration had adopted a plan to begin weaning the municipalities off Central Government’s support, for financing their works. He told the Councillors that the municipalities are now being advised to start functioning like corporations that generate the wealth needed to meet their operational cost.
“I think that business consideration that our councils are being urged to bring, that business mindset, beginning in Georgetown would do a lot to drive efficiency and improvement within the management of councils,” the Minister said.
“So honourable Mayors, I do not want you to feel that Central Government is just going to push their hands in the kitty and keep bailing out Georgetown, and you are going to be left on your own, we are going to try to be consistent with the message and not discriminate,” he said.