City Hall CoI: LGC meeting with those implicated, says action to be taken shortly

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City Hall

The Local Government Commission (LGC) will for the next two weeks be meeting with senior staffers of the Town Council who were implicated in the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry (CoI) before action is to be taken on the recommendations made.

In an effort to ensure that justice is served following the recommendations of the recently concluded CoI into the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown, the LGC, via a statement said it, sent letters to those implicated outlining the findings of the COI against them, requesting that they respond in writing to these findings and attend meetings organized by the Commission to address these responses while being given an opportunity to be heard.

Following this, the Commission said that it will “proceed to implement the administrative measures that we have deliberated on and agreed to” while noting that “separate measures will be referred for either criminal or financial investigation and action as may be warranted.”

Chairman of the CoI into City Hall, Justice Cecil Kennard had recommended that disciplinary measures to be taken against senior staffers of the Town Council, along with Town Clerk Royston King as the one who had chiefly committed the gross misconduct.

Georgetown Town Clerk, Royston King.

Kennard had explained that criminal charges can be instituted, since King had leased lands which are owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).

“The Town Clerk has no authority to issue lease…The land in dispute is clearly that of NICIL, and not that of City Hall. I came to that conclusion on the basis of two transports,” he said.

NICIL would have provided statements to the Commission via its in-house Attorney, Arianne McLean, which would have detailed that the property was acquired by NICIL in 2002.

The Guyana National Engineering Corporation (GNEC) would have vested all of its assets in NICIL and NICIL became the lawful owner of the property. However, King leased the land to a shipping company, which made “questionable” payments.

He also called for the acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe; Internal Auditor Omadeily Newton; City Constable Andrew Foo, and Human Resources Manager Paula Braithwaite to be disciplined for ‘complete incompetence and dereliction of duty’.

The City Engineer’s Department was under scrutiny for time lapses for plans to be approved, a process that should have taken weeks if all documents were submitted.

Meanwhile, it was recommended that City Treasurer Ron Mc Almont, who has been on leave since commencement of this year, proceed on retirement.

The report also called for the Audit Office of Guyana to conduct a forensic audit into the council’s management even as officers are being disciplined.

The CoI also recommended that the Mayor send the no-confidence motion against King to the Local Government Commission for deliberation.

Along with the reimbursement of monies to Bourda vendors whose stalls were destroyed, the Commission called for unfixed employees to be placed on the fixed schedule after serving seven years and all retirees must be paid their benefits and gratuity.

It was indicated that the Councillors should not be paid gratuity, since they only sit at statutory meetings.

With outstanding rates in the millions due to defaulting taxpayers, it was recommended that there be moderate increases in the taxes to assist the Councillors, as well as strict efforts to retrieve outstanding debts.

Conversely, for contractors and retirees who are owed, the Government was suggested as the way forward in clearing these debts.

According to the LCG, “The COI has submitted its report with several recommendations, and the Commission has deliberated on and taken decisions to ensure that these recommendations are dealt with, whilst ensuring that established good industrial relations principles are adhered to during the conduct of this proceeding.”

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