NIS owed in excess of $206M from City Hall- CoI hears

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Debt Recovery Manager of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Louise Bryan on Wednesday presented documents at the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into City Hall, in respect to its indebtedness which stated that in excess of $206 million is owed by City Hall, dating back since 1994.

Bryan told the Commission, “It is for the period September 1994 to August 2018…part payments would have been made. There are still outstanding monies… [It’s] over $206 million.”

Former employees of the Council appeared before the CoI in the last few weeks, stating that they haven’t been paid NIS or their severances. Some have been on the waiting list for years and no response was given by City Hall.

Demand notices issued to the Council, letters to the Local Government Commission and a tally of the outstanding payments were submitted and tendered for evidence.

This will be included in the deliberations that will create recommendations once the investigation is completed.

To complete a thorough investigation, the CoI was extended and the Town Clerk will present himself on Friday for questioning.

File photo: Town Clerk Royston King and Mayor, Patricia Chase-Greene

Meanwhile during her second appearance at the CoI, Mayor of the Georgetown municipality Patricia Chase-Greene on Wednesday completely distanced herself from the decision-making process at City Hall and further suggested the fact that she is merely a figurehead.

In her two and a half long witness statement on Wednesday, Mayor Patricia Chase-Greene stated under oath that she presides over statutory meetings of the Georgetown City Council, but is required to proceed with the decision that is made by the Councillors.

Chase-Greene also sought to mention that she is guided by the “law” on how she should act.

The majority of the questions that were asked revolved around the No-Confidence Motion that was filed against the Town Clerk, Royston King by Councillor Sherod Duncan and the manner in which it was dealt.

This arose after the Mayor allowed King to seek advice from his lawyer, Maxwell Edwards, and this was presented to the Council. King subsequently requested that the motion should be placed for discussions, but it was brought before the Council.

The motion was then dismissed via a vote from Full Council and during that March 12 meeting; Chase Green was presiding as the chair. She is contending that the Town Clerk is required to sit in such proceedings as was done before.

“This is not the first motion coming against any Town Clerk. There were motions brought before former Town Clerks and [they] sat in situations as Town Clerks and dealt with those motion,” she stated.

The Mayor attempted to further distance herself from the perplexed way in which the matter was addressed by stating in her defence, “I’ve known of no other Mayor that has been held accountable for motions not debated in the Council.”

Despite these retorts, retired Justice Cecil Kennard remained steadfast in his thoughts that independent legal advice should have been sought.

Adding to these factors, the Mayor then divulged that she is of the view that Edwards is an advisor to the City Hall administration.

This is seemingly contradicting to her response to the letter of summon which labels Edwards as the “Town Clerk’s lawyer”.

Representing the CoI, Attorney-at-Law Everton Singh-Lammy highlighted sections of the letter written by Chase Green which states, “The motion came before me with an advice by the Town Clerk’s lawyer.” (Rupadai Seenaraine)

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