By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Junior Local Government and Regional Development Minister Norman Whittaker on Monday (January 20) registered his dissatisfaction with the manner in which some municipalities, particularly Georgetown performed in 2013 and said pressure will be mounted in 2014 to ensure greater efficiency.
Whittaker said he was particularly saddened when he learnt that of the $1.46B that the Georgetown municipality collected for rates and taxes in 2013, just over $420M was used for the delivery of services to citizens while a whopping $981M was utilized to meet employment cost.
He said it is the Ministry’s intention also to have more dialogue with the people who stand to benefit from these services, which he noted have worsen with the increased rainfall and flooding.
Pointing again to the Georgetown municipality, the Minister noted that Councilors were engaged ad nauseam on what should be done to ensure that critical services to reduce the impact of flooding are provided.
“Attention must be drawn to Georgetown because of its landmass, population size and political focus on the part of who should be delivering but have a different agenda,” Whittaker added.
He contends that a lot of the services that are in fact lacking are within the reach of the municipalities despite cries otherwise.
“Most of the attention of some of these municipalities has been focused on providing reasons for non-performance; excuses of resources continue to be used in attempts to clear one’s self of culpability.”
He said Government has aided significantly in bring relief to citizens affected in the past and will continue to do so without taking over the roles of the municipalities.
“We are working to restore confidence because people have lost confidence and have resorted to blame the Government.”
In 2013 a lot of effort was placed on improving infrastructure and Anna Regina was dubbed the best performed municipality for 2013, since it was the only municipality of the six which completed 100% of its work programme using government’s subvention.
Government had set aside a total of $65M in the National 2013 Budget as subventions for the six municipalities. Anna Regina received $9M from the $65M and used it on seven projects ranging from improved drainage to developing infrastructure.
Georgetown on the other hand continues to perform badly, according to the Minister. The town received $11M and did not utilize it fully, but according to Whittaker, the municipality showed some amount of improvements, completing just over 50% of the work the money was intended for.