City Hall mulls closure of welfare, day care services

Guyana Chronicle
February 24, 2000

THE City Council may have to close its Maternal and Child Welfare Centres and day care services, to boost its poor financial income.

In his weekly report, City Mayor Hamilton Green said that the City Council agreed to meet urgently with Government officials to examine other revenue sources to reduce its anticipated deficit.

Green said that Minister within the Local Government Ministry, Mr Clinton Collymore assured that the matter was engaging the attention of Cabinet.

He said that Collymore recognised that the matter was crucial to the completion of City Hall's estimates of expenditure and revenue to enable them to present their budget for 2000.

City Hall has concluded the examination of its first and second drafts of estimates since January 31. Figures show a tremendous deficit which can only be met through an increase in rates, Green said.

Mayor Green noted that the authority had promised that it would not hike rates for a while.

"If we do not acquire new sources then we will have to take some serious decisions," he added.

According to Green, the maternal and child welfare services and day care centres require $100M in expenditure for management and operation for this year alone.

Green said the Council may be unable to do road works for the year. It is also possible that the authority will have to reduce the level of planned drainage works by 70 per cent.

"We feel that Government must meet us to discuss these areas as a matter of urgency. We have observed, through the press, that Government officials are meeting with a number of institutions - the Private Sector, the Trade Unions, the Institute of Private Enterprise Development and other organisations," he said.

He added that the Government should meet the authority so that interested groups can be informed about the requirements of Georgetown.

The Mayor, however, feels that the new revenue sources City Hall is recommending can provide the amount of money needed to take care of crucial expenditure.

For instance, the environmental tax collected by Government through Customs, is $132M. But the Municipality, which is required to dispose of about 70 per cent of all plastic containers, beverage cans and other wrappings from imported items, receives no percentage of the tax.

Another possible source of revenue is the container tax, Green said. He pointed out that during 1999, about 14,000 containers passed through the wharf of one shipping company. If the recommended US$100 per container (as tax), had been approved, Georgetown would have received some $259M from that source alone.

Government collected $1Bln for 1999 from the Guyana Lottery Company. This represents the total amount of rates payable by all property owners in Georgetown, Green said.

"It is our view, that since we were the initiators of the Lotto, that the city be considered for either its own Lotto or some arrangement, where a substantial amount of the money which comes as the Government's share, can be transferred to the city," Green said.

Mayor Green pointed out that the city was talking about the Lotto since 1995.

Other areas of funding advanced by the Council are the fuel tax and a municipal parking arrangement. Green said that City Hall was about to sign an agreement with an overseas investor when it was put on hold by the Government since 1996, awaiting Cabinet's consideration.

Also, City Hall has not been in receipt of any money from the registration and licence of vehicles which use the city.

Green said that Collymore wrote City Hall, stating that Cabinet has not yet considered the recommendations advanced.

During 1999, City Hall spent $180M on the city's roads. This year, the authority will focus on drainage in a novel way which would include involvement of community development groups, private contractors and others.

A serious onslaught will be carried out against defective and faulty canals, drains and other waterways, the Mayor promised.

Simultaneously, City Hall will pursue the enforcement of laws to treat with those who dispose of their refuse in these canals and drains after they are cleared.