By Utamu Belle
Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland has denied reports highlighted in some sections of the media that he and Deputy Mayor Waneka Arindell expended over G$500,000 in travel/fuel expenses from the time of taking up office on April 1.
Holland, reportedly overseas at the time of the allegations, sought to set the record straight during a press conference in Georgetown on Monday. He said the impression presented to some sections of the media and the public that he “treats the municipality of the Linden Mayor and Town Council’s (LM&TC) funds like his personal piggy bank” are not only untrue, but signals a clear attempt to incriminate and bring the Mayor’s office into disrepute with malicious slandering.
He pointed out that it is the Linden Town Clerk (TC) Jenella Bowen, who administers and more so has access to the Council’s funds, also stating that not even the Deputy Mayor has such access to the funds.
Councillor and acting head of the council’s Finance Committee Derron John who was also present, reported that from the period April 1 to now a total of G$255,464 was expended in vehicular travelling by the mayor and deputy mayor, instead of over the G$500,000 that was reported.
“Let me begin by first asserting that these allegations are completely untrue and are a gross exaggeration of the actual expenditures…the actual sum expended on fuel by the mayor and deputy Office is almost half of what was wickedly presented to the media…It is the responsibility of the municipality to provide a fixed sum for travel to the capital city Georgetown on Council business. On many occasions I have travelled to Georgetown and not requested funds to travel,” Holland noted.
Meanwhile, the mayor went on to state that he is aware of the Council’s financial situation, with it being over G$200 million in the red but denied the exorbitant spending.
“I am not now, nor have I been an exorbitant spender, nor one to be fancied over frivolous things. Instead, I know myself to be charitable especially to my town and have been fighting ever since we took office for stricter financial accountability and prudent spending,” Holland remarked.
Holland said he was forced to send a letter of complaint to the Communities Minister regarding what he described as the malpractices of the TC while he was on vacation. He believes there was a deliberate attempt to besmirch his image and that of the Deputy Mayor by inflating expenditures.
He is contemplating legal proceedings; and will only recant when he gets a public apology.