Honorarium proposal gets hostile reception
City Council Round-up
Council's seeks minister's intervention
April 29, 2002
Articles on Georgetown
A proposal that members of a working committee, overseeing the institutional strengthening at City Hall, and comprising councillors, trade unionists and senior staff be paid a monthly honorarium received a hostile reception at the last statutory meeting of the city council.
Councillors and trade union representatives had been earmarked to receive $50,000 each while the other members of the committee had been listed to get $25,000 per month. The two main advocates and spokespersons for the honorarium payout were Good and Green, Guyana councillors Gwen McGowan and Patricia Chase-Green, both of whom advanced arguments to support the proposal.
But the leaders of the three political parties represented on the council, Mayor Hamilton Green of the GGG, Oscar Clarke for the People National Congress/R and Fitzgerald Agard for the People's Progressive Party/C were uncomfortable with the use of the word honorarium as payment for such an exercise.
Mayor Green said the request was not well thought out and asked... "how could you justify this to the taxpayer... let us wait.." He viewed the request as a flagrant breach of the law for city councillors to be paid honoraria in this way.
The PNC/R's councillor Oscar Clarke, while having no problem with an honorarium being paid, could not agree with the argument that payment should be made before the work of the committee had been completed and assessed.
The newly appointed PNC/R councillor Junior Garrett the only other contributor from his party speaking on the proposal said all parties concerned should be paid "so they feel comfortable.."
The PPP/C's Agard said the request gives the wrong impression to citizens, coming on the heels of increases in the travelling allowances for councillors from $20,000 to $30,000 monthly.
He was not in favour of any payment until the job had been done and brought before the council for a decision.
Councillor McGowan called on the `chief citizen' to quote the law which prevents the payment of honoraria in advance. She also hinted that the committee of which she is a member was not receiving the full co-operation of the consultants engaged by the council to carry out the institutional strengthening exercise.
Councillor Chase-Green, the other supporter of the proposal reminded her colleagues that she is a professional nurse and for several days during the past week she has had to attend meetings at City Hall. She also echoed a perennial complaint from another GGG councillor Harold Kissoon, about the non-attendance at statutory meetings of `quite a few', councillors... while others are usually in hurry to leave before the agenda is completed.
In the end, former PNC/R mayor Ranwell Jordan suggested that because the issue was of such importance it should be looked at again by the full council. It was time for snacks, supplied by Carnegie.
The city council's internal auditor has discovered irregularities in the method which was used in arriving at the current salary of the budget director at the city treasurer's department.
The personnel and training committee has recommended that the salary of the budget director be `red circled' and sent to the minister responsible for local government for further investigations.
Information received by this column shows that the holder of the post was appointed on December 1, 1999 with approval of the minister. The conditions included a probationary period of one year, a salary of $69,187 per month, duty allowance of $3,000 monthly, house allowance $5,000, entertainment $3,000 and travelling $4,000.
If the owner of a motor car, an allowance of $8,458 per month with a commuted mileage allowance would also be available.
The council's internal auditor has found that a 20% increase across the board in salaries for employees was added to the budget director's salary with effect from January 2000. This was followed by a memorandum from the personnel officer dated September 4, 2000 to the city treasurer recommending am addition to the budget director's salary on account of the employee's qualifications.
The council's internal auditor has found no evidence of increased qualification of the current budget director but the salary reflects an increase to $101,377 which was paid for the month of September, 2000. Further, during the month of October 2000 by way of a 22% increase across the board for municipal employees the budget director's salary now stands at $123,680 per month.
The internal auditor's report to the personnel and training committee pointed out that the increase in salary for September 2000 was not subject to approval by the committee. There is no letter from the personnel officer commenting on the performance of the budget director during the probation period, hence no confirmation in the post.
May Day handout......the Guyana Labour Union and Guyana Local Government Officers Union which represent workers at the city council have asked City Hall for $150,000 each "to be utilized for interaction of their members on the usual Labour Day rally social." The council has before it a request from the two unions for the beginning of talks on increase wages and salaries for the year 2002.
A helping hand..........the Inner Wheel Circle .....a social group has offered to repair the lavatory, two sheds and benches in the Promenade Gardens. The council is to identify someone to work along with the group.
At last.........the authorities have taken action to ensure that persons doing business as well as shoppers could once again move about freely on the roadway between Bourda street and Orange Walk between the Bourda Market and the Bourda Green without having to dart between parked and moving vehicles in this area. There must be a constant monitoring of the situation. The city constabulary with a strengthened force seems to be more proactive in and around Bourda especially along Bourda street from Regent to North Road.
Council's seeks minister's intervention