Nokta orders inquiry into city government Following mayor's request

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
August 5, 2000

In response to a request from Mayor Hamilton Green, Local Government Minister Harripersaud Nokta has issued an order for an inquiry to be held into the affairs, practices and decisions of the Georgetown municipality, including the City Council.

However, the Minister's order that an inquiry be convened was met with the immediate filing of legal action by Good and Green Guyana councillor Llewellyn John to block it.

Green at the last statutory meeting of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) gave notice that he would request an independent commission to conduct a full-scale investigation into the administration of City Hall. He had declared that something was "amiss" with the administration.

The Ministry in its written response to Green, a copy of which was seen by Stabroek News, said after taking into consideration all the relevant factors and necessary consultations, the Minister was satisfied that the Mayor's call for an inquiry was "reasonable" and "justified".

The process was initiated in keeping with the Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01, said the ministry. According to the Order, a local inquiry will be held into the affairs, practices and decisions of the municipality of the city of Georgetown, inclusive of the City Council at a place and date to be fixed by the Minister, by a commissioner duly named.

The terms of reference of the inquiry, would be;

*To examine whether the City Council has exceeded or breached its powers, or has any default in the performance of its duties, and to make recommendations.

*To examine whether the City Council has failed to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of efficiency, accountability and progress in the discharge of its functions, and to make recommendations.

*To examine whether the expenditure of the City Council has generally or on any particular head, been excessive or unreasonable, having regard to its financial resources and other relevant circumstances of the Council area, and to make recommendations.

*To examine whether the City Council has failed to observe any lawful financial instructions and to make recommendations.

*To examine whether the complaints and representations of citizens have been generally ignored by officials of the Municipality and to make recommendations.

*To examine whether the Local Government Officers in the Municipality including the Town Clerk, the City Treasurer, the City Engineer, Clerks of Markets and other officers not listed in Section 72 of the Act, have been and are performing their stated tasks in a satisfactory and transparent manner and to make recommendations.

*To examine allegations to the effect that Municipal facilities, materials, equipment and employees have been or are being systematically misused by persons in their private capacity, to the financial detriment of the Municipality and to make recommendations and to examine the performance of the City Constabulary, including the performance of the senior officers and junior ranks, jointly and severally as set out in Section 126 of the Act as amended by Act No 27 of 1997 and to make recommendations.

*And to examine any other relevant aspect of the affairs of the City Council and municipality and to make recommendations.

According to the motion challenging the order for an inquiry into the City Council signed by John and People's National Congress councillor Desmond Moses, the Mayor and Councillors of the City have no authority from the Council to seek the "purported" Order. The councillors are contending that the matter never came up for discussion before the Council and as such it was not deliberated on and therefore no authority was given to the Mayor to make the request that he made of the Minister.

Mayor Green in an invited comment said he had noted the motion of John, who is a councillor from his party's bloc and Moses. However, he said, he was more concerned about the wider need of citizens who have lodged many just complaints.

He said he would do what is necessary to analyse the ills of the municipality in order to provide a better service to citizens.

Grounds given by the Mayor for the enquiry include principal officers ignoring the complaints of citizens; failure of the Town Clerk (TC) to reply to memos sent to her about issues affecting the city; lack of follow-up on decisions made; failure to carry out Council's decisions and the non-production of a requested schedule of those decisions from the TC.

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