Communities Minister complicit with City Hall wrong doings- Opposition Leader

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Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is accusing Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan of being complicit with the wrong doings of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council.

He was at the time making reference to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that was launched into the financial affairs of City Hall.

Jagdeo at his most recent press briefing posited that “APNU has gone around to vendors and residents to say to them that we know you’re dissatisfied with the performance of City Hall for several years and we intend to take serious measures to address the performance of Mayor and Town Clerk. Then they say to people we have recently sent them off to facilitate an investigation at City Hall.”

Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan

Moreover, he said that the alleged financial improprieties at City Hall were brought to Bulkan and his Ministry’s attention but they refused to do anything.

“I just want to say to the residents of Georgetown, the Ministry of Communities had absolutely nothing to do with the probe that is taking place at City Hall now. In fact, the Ministry of communities and Mr Bulkan have protected the transgressions of City Hall for the past several years, although these have been brought to his attention and to the Ministry’s attention” said Jagdeo.

He reminded that the PPP’s two representatives on the City Council had been calling for forensic audit of City Hall’s affairs since 2016.

In fact, he noted that two motions were tabled in City Hall that year – one calling for forensic audit and the other calling for detailed financial statements on expenditures –but they were blocked by the Town Clerk despite efforts to have them on the agenda of the Council’s statutory meeting.

“So since 2016, we’ve been trying to get what now is being done on the agenda to be discussed – a forensic audit of the affairs of City Hall and secondly, to have detailed financial statements on expenditures because we knew of the corruption… And Bulkan frustrated this” Jagdeo explained.

According to the Opposition Leader, Bulkan frustrated the establishment of the Local Government Commission and “it was only when the commission started its work, and on that commission, we have three representatives – Carol Sooba, Norman Whittaker, Clinton Collimore – and they pushed for this audit – a Commission of Inquiry – City Hall and so it happened in spite of Bulkan, not with his support. In spite of Bulkan and his attempt to frustrate it, the Local Government Commission managed to get this CoI.”

Retired Justice Cecil Kennard, was recently sworn in by Chief Magistrate (ag), Ann Mc Lennan as the Chairman and sole Commissioner to CoI into the operation of the city government.

The CoI is set to receive evidence at the Critchlow Labour College, Woolford Avenue up to September 21.

A report of its findings is expected by the end of October.

According to Justice Kennard, provisions will be made for in camera hearings should the need arise.

Chairman of the Local Government Commission, Mortimer Mingo had said that a decision was taken to launch the CoI after a series of complaints about financial matters at City Hall.

According to Mingo, the Commission had been receiving complaints of corruption at City Hall for several months.

Moreover, Deputy Chairman of the Local Government Commission, Andrew Garnett had assured that there will be no reprisals for those giving evidence to the CoI into the operations of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.

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