President promises City Hall $60M in rates, taxes

Guyana Chronicle
April 23, 2000

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has promised to have 50 per cent of the promised $120M in rates and taxes paid almost immediately to City Hall, the municipality says.

This money is part of outstanding rates and taxes by the government for City Hall over several years.

Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Council's Finance Committee, Mr Robert Williams who last Thursday presented the 2000 budget, said the President met City Hall recently.

The meeting followed a resolution the council passed to request the President's intervention into the authority's problems.

It was agreed at the meeting that the President will meet all concerned parties on his return to Guyana from Cuba, to advance the Mayor and City Council's proposals.

Another agreement reached was that the Mayor will submit the relevant legislation to the Head of the Presidential Secretariat who will ensure that Cabinet considers and settles its appointment at its next meeting.

Williams told those attending the budget presentation that it was decided that the Minister of Local Government will have the verification committee complete its assignment without further delay.

This may require a new coordinator or chairman, he said.

He said the President promised that all Directors and other Chief Executive Officers of their boards will be requested to settle their outstanding indebtedness to City Hall as a matter of urgency.

The Privatisation Unit will be asked by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat to address those properties where divestment was done, Williams said.

Also, it was agreed that the legal requirement to pay all outstanding taxes before any transfer of state or para statal property will be held sacrosanct.

Williams said it is clear that the municipality could not be successful, nor the government effective, without a good relationship.

"This must be based on mutual understanding, respect and a common sense that working together is in the interest of the city and its populace", Williams said.

City Hall also needs to cultivate harmonious relationships with the other social partners such as the private sector, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and the media, he said.

These all have a special responsibility in providing for a better managed city, he added.

He said that over the years, the authority has had consultations with these organisations but has not had the level of cooperation hoped for.

Williams is optimistic that the city will benefit from a higher level of understanding from these partners.

City Council records $600M shortfall

THE City Council has recorded a shortfall of $600M of its budgeted $1.6Bln last year.

Presenting City Hall's $3.4bln budget for this year, Deputy Mayor and Finance Chairman, Mr Robert Williams Thursday said principal areas accounting for revenue collection last year were general rates, $500M; accrued rates, $300M; markets, $68M and City Engineer's Department processing fees, $10M.

The collection of general rates was better than previous years, largely due to the increased efforts of councillors and officers in addition to special incentives offered during the year, he reported.

Despite these incentives, however, there still remains what can be considered the deliberate unwillingness on the part of rate payers to honour their civic responsibilities, he said.

Expenditure for 1999 was concentrated on roads.

Williams said the council repaired and maintained nine miles of roads at a cost of more than $150M.

Areas included Lodge Housing Scheme; Meadow Brook; East Ruimveldt; Stabroek; Cemetery Road; East La Penitence; Aubrey Barker Street and North East La Penitence.

More than 15 miles of the city's canals, alleyways and trenches were attended to at a cost of $36M, Williams reported.

Towards the end of 1999, a community drainage enhancement programme involving 11 areas was embarked upon to bring relief to residents during the rainy season. This cost $5M, he said.

Williams said that during 1999, the City Council constructed the first ever Constabulary Training Complex in Water Street with live-in accommodation for 40 persons. This cost $15M.

Extensive renovations were done to the South Road complex.

Williams said this was transformed from just the maternal and child welfare services to a public health complex with improved working conditions. The project cost $7M.

Maintenance works were done on the City Council building and renovations to the municipal building on Princes Street started. This is expected to be completed next week.

City Hall's Public Health department is now operating from a complex at South Road.

However, no extensive works were done to municipal markets. This is to be undertaken by the Urban Development Programme which is eight years behind schedule.

Minor repairs were done, Williams said.

Meanwhile, the City Constabulary succeeded in prosecuting a number of persons for municipal breaches.

Further, constant vigilance by the constabulary reduced the number of breakages at the markets and other locations.

Williams added that the constabulary continued to function under strength and could not perform at a maximum

This year, expenditure will be concentrated on drainage, roads, security, community activities, solid waste management, day care, maternal and child welfare.

Revenue and expenditure budgeted for this year is $1.7Bln each. (GWEN EVELYN)