Deputy Mayor criticizes disparity in litter fines; EPA has no objection to harmonization

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[www.inewsguyana.com] – Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase – Green has denounced what she said was an unfortunate disparity in the fines for littering in and out of Georgetown.

Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the EPA, Kemraj Parsram
Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the EPA, Kemraj Parsram

Under the Municipal and Districts Councils Act the City Council is allowed to charge persons found littering a fine of $10,000 while under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, fines for littering stands at $50,000.

In an invited comment, Chase – Green opined that the fines for littering must be across the board and that the EPA and Council should find ways to work together so that both entities can benefit.

“It is conflicting and is causing confusion because they have litter wardens in the streets… our officers will have to be empowered so that the council benefits from the fine also some of the duties fall under our environmental health officers and I repeat there is need for real collaboration, not just meetings and talk” the Deputy Mayor added.

Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase - Green
Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase – Green

She said that there was the need for reform to the Municipal and Districts Councils Act so empower the council in its fight against littering. “The EPA can charge people for dumping in open spaces and people as accessory to littering, we can’t do that.”

However, when contacted Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the EPA Kemraj Parsram made it clear that the body has no objections to the harmonization of the fines but noted that such a move will need to come from the Council’s end.

He said the EPA is currently testing the implementation of the regulations in Georgetown and has been engaged in discussions with the Mayor and City Council on ways the two entities can collaborate, specifically in relation to enforcement of the regulations.

He said the meetings were between the EPA, Town Clerk, Chief Constable and the Director of solid Waste Management.

“It’s in the early stages; we are evaluating the planning process and collaborative efforts” Parsram said, adding that the hope is to give the City Constables the same powers as litter wardens.

“The Minister has the power to authorize any agency to be litter wardens, currently there are wardens from the EPA, GGMC, Forestry Commission, Police Force and Public Health, and any other person the Minister deems fit.”

Meanwhile, Legal Officer of the EPA Richard Layne said that the move to harmonize the fines must be done through the legal person at City Hall, who happens to be Town Clerk Carol Sooba.

He said the EPA is currently involved in a period of sensitization along with the Council, adding that the enforcement of the litter regulations under the EPA Act will be done through a phased approach, beginning first in Georgetown before spreading to the rest of the country.

He explained too that once the fines are paid through the Court, it is deposited with the Chief Clerk before making its way into the consolidated fund.

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