‘City Hall cash-strapped’ – Mayor urges residents to settle outstanding rates and taxes

Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine
Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine

Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine is appealing to residents in the capital city to pay their rates and taxes so that City Hall, which has been delinquent in its payments to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), can pay off its debt.

It was recently reported that City Hall owes NIS some G$218 million. The Mayor said that the treasurer and finance Committee are exploring options to have this issue resolved.

“They are looking at how we can be able to honour those obligations,” he said while adding, “We are appealing to the public to pay their taxes so we can get our NIS and so clear. Everything is about money and to be honest, City Hall is really cash-strapped where we can’t afford it”.

On this note, the Mayor admitted that the situation becomes so severe at times that the Council is unable to pay staffers some months. According to the Insurance Act, it is a criminal offence if entities fail to pay their contributions by the due date. Those who refuse to pay can be prosecuted.

Last August, City Hall workers took to the streets in front of City Hall as they protested the non-payment of NIS contributions among others.

It was explained that on many occasions workers have visited the NIS and were unable to get any money for spectacles or sick leave since the Council has been delinquent in its payments.

Following the protest, the then Town Clerk, Royston King met with the workers’ union and a payment plan was agreed to, to address these concerns.

With agencies like City Hall failing to pay up their contributions, NIS recorded a whopping G$748 million deficit during the first half of this year.

This was evident in the Finance Ministry’s Half Year report which explained that the insurance scheme recorded an overall deficit of G$748.4 million for the year, compared to the G$715.6 million it recorded in the same half-year period for 2018. Revenue collection so far for 2019 was G$11.9 billion, 9.7 per cent more than the same period for 2018.