City councillors vote for 50% increase in their stipends
Stabroek News
April 10, 2002

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City `fathers' and `mothers' have succeeded in getting the 2002 budget, to be presented today to include a 50% increase in their stipend. At present city councillors receive $20,000 tax-free per month as a travelling expense. The move to increase the monthly payment to councillors was spearheaded by Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillor Gwen McGowan at Monday's statutory meeting, shortly after the deputy mayor and chairman of the Finance Committee, GGG councillor Robert Williams had explained certain aspects of the budget.

The agenda item called for the consideration of the estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year 2002. Councillor McGowan with strong support from another GGG councillor, Harold Kissoon was urged by Mayor Hamilton Green, who is the leader of her party, not to go ahead with her motion pointing out.. "It would be most inappropriate at this time.." The `chief citizen' suggested that the council await the completion of a report by a team of consultants on the institutional strengthening of the municipal administration. There were no takers. At voting time there was overwhelming support from councillors around the horseshoe table for the 50% increase with the deputy mayor and the leader of the People's Progressive Party/C faction on the council, councillor Fitzgerald Agard abstaining. The leader of the People's National Congress/R faction councillor Oscar Clark, who was present, left later in the afternoon after seeking leave of Mayor Green, before the stipend increase motion was debated and passed.

Mayor Green finally directed the chairman of the finance committee to include the 50% increase in his budget to be presented today. Monday's meeting was also highlighted by strong differences on money matters between the newly appointed PNC/R councillor Junior Garrett and the City Treasurer Roderick Edinboro. Mr Garrett is an accountant by profession. In his maiden speech since his appointment about one month ago, the PNC/R councillor questioned the methodology used in crafting the budget and signalled that he will be a thorn in the side of those responsible for the city's financial affairs.

Mr Garrett's searching questions received immediate responses from both the finance committee's chairman and the city treasurer who argued that there is a difference between financial accounting and budget preparation. We'll be hearing more from councillor Garrett.

After the exchanges PNC/R councillor and former mayor Ranwell Jordan suggested a postponement of today's budget presentation to allow the chairman of the finance committee to take note of the points raised by the PNC/R councillor. This did not find favour with the mayor and other councillors.