No probe at City Hall until audit completed - Collymore
Stabroek News
January 13, 2002

Minister within the Ministry of Local Government, Clinton Collymore, has said that he would not be conducting any investigation at City Hall until the probe by the Auditor General was completed as this would be unethical on his part.

Mayor Hamilton Green said recently that he had made contact with the ministry to investigate the present structure at City Hall, claiming that he and the council are rendered useless by the town clerk and other high ranking officers who refuse to implement decisions taken by the council.

The officers, through council's Public Relations Office, have since denied the mayor's claim stating that the mayor was in the habit of making pronouncements on his own and wanting those to be implemented.

Green has since written to the ministry alleging that there are financial irregularities in the council.

He reportedly alleged in the letter that about $700,000 was missing from a transaction last year between the council and AH&L Kissoon Ltd.

Contacted on Friday, Collymore said that he had received the letter from Green and had asked the Auditor General to conduct the investigation.

Asked about the mayor's request for him to make an investigation into the structure at City Hall, Collymore said that he might be doing this after the Auditor General's investigation. Collymore said that if when the Auditor General's report was submitted to him it called for criminal action to be taken against person or persons he would recommend this.

Collymore said that the mayor had made several requests for him to conduct enquiries at City Hall and alleged that key officers were not carrying out the decisions of the council. However, he said, the officers had strongly denied the mayor's claim. Collymore opined that the real issue was about control. He said that the mayor's party, A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG) had the majority-12 councillors-on the council, with the PNC/R following with ten and PPP/C eight, and this was supposed to give the mayor some amount of control on the council. But the minister said that some of the AGGG councillors had been wavering politically and as such sometimes did not support the mayor who would then not get the majority votes on certain issues.

Collymore recalled that about a year ago the mayor had requested that he conduct an enquiry at City Hall and he had conceded to do. However, he said, one of the mayor's councillors, Llewellyn John, with the support of a PNC/R councillor moved to the court blocking the investigation. He said that because of the court hearing he had been unable to conduct the investigation. "If you look at the matter on the surface you would never get the truth," Collymore said.

He said that there was political squabbling in the council and he (the minister) was an administrator and as such would not be taking in political sides. But, he said, if there were something grossly wrong happening at City Hall he would intervene.

Collymore recommended that if Green found a particular officer erring then he should charge that officer and take him before the council. He said that at the council level a motion should be passed and a recommendation made on the fate of the officer. That recommendation would be then passed to Collymore and he would ensure that it was carried out.

He said that if it were recommended that the officer should be dismissed then he would dismiss that officer as he had the power to do so.

The minister described what he revealed to this newspaper as "the tip of the iceberg," adding that there was a lot going on but he did not think it was right for him to go into other matters. He stressed that all the problems stemmed from the fact that local government elections had been long overdue. The present council has been in office since 1994. He said he hoped that the procedures would be speeded up and the elections could be held soon.