City Hall calls again for “immediate” financial assistance from Govt

Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine

The Georgetown Mayor and City Council is yet again demanding funds from Central Government in the form of subventions to execute works and sanitisation within the capital city.

On Monday, Mayor Ubraj Narine called for budgetary subventions of $10 million for 2020 and $30 million for 2021 to be paid to the Council.

However, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall has since clarified that an agreement is already in place between City Hall and Government, whereby the $30 million subvention would be used towards the completion of an administrative building.

This decision was taken between the two parties earlier, with the injection of an additional $100 million for the restoration of City Hall.

But the Mayor is now contending that it is now time for a “deep cleanse” of the markets due to the rise in the infection of COVID-19 – an activity which requires money. Moreover, he has stated that the subvention should be used for sanitisation in the city.

“Markets and the city environment need to be fumigated to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the city. The subvention from the Government of Guyana to the Georgetown Municipality is used to purchase equipment that bolsters the uptake of garbage thereby maintaining the environment.

Government subventions to the municipality aids in providing a clean and healthy environment for the citizens of Georgetown. To stifle the municipality from receiving these two subventions should be cause for concern to organisations, Guyanese, and international citizens who operate in and around the city of Georgetown,” the statement said.

He added that if Government releases more funds to the cash-strapped Council, it will be used to purchase equipment for solid waste management.
Commenting on the financial position of the Council, Minister Dharamlall outlined that City Hall has accrued revenue of over $14 billion in the last five years, which the Mayor must account for.

“The mismanagement of the resources of City Hall is a primary reason why the city is in such a terrible state. Government is committed to ensure that the city is transformed and we have begun that process,” he added.

An audit was launched a few months ago, targeting both the financial and operational makeup of the municipality. Dharamlall had positioned that until the audit is complete, Government will not provide support to the institution – which has often failed to demonstrate accountability.

Just last year, it was reported that there was no accountability for the $300 million restoration fund which was contributed to the Georgetown Mayor and City Council for the restoration of the dilapidated City Hall building.