Public forum on business plan leaves many questions unanswered
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
January 20, 2003
The Public Forum on the Development of a city Business Plan has come and gone, leaving in its wake more ifs and buts about the way forward for Guyana’s capital Georgetown. The Forum was well attended with a large turn out of city ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ from the three political parties represented on the City Council, but it was obvious at the end of the day, after 5 pm, that careful attention was not paid to time management which is crucial where legal and political business is conducted.
There was much to be desired from those who made presentations and the absence of a strong delegation from the business community was a further setback. Many of those who addressed the large gathering, especially the spokespersons for the international agencies and organizations, took the opportunity to ‘sell’ and showcase their employer’s points of view and positions.
For example, the representative of the Guyana Training Agency which receives funding from the European Union, while noting that she was not in competition with other agencies, called for a show of hands by those persons who know about her agency and the work it is doing in Guyana. Contributions also came from the representatives of the United Nations, and Canadian non-government organisations.
It was interesting to note the pledges of support coming from these international agencies and organisations. Listening to these presentations, one is left to ask, why City Hall is yet to tap into these sources for the much needed help to save Georgetown from further descending into anarchy and chaos, words frequently used by Mayor Hamilton Green to describe the state of affairs in the Guyana capital.
Putting it bluntly, the City Council needs large inflows of cash apart from its revenues, as well as an administration that is efficient, hard-working, honest and accountable, employing sound business practices at all times.
“The need for a metamorphosis exists, but change never really comes easily ...” said Mayor Green.
While most of those who spoke, seemed not to have grasped the thrust of the discourse which at times bordered on empty rhetoric, there were a few presenters whose contributions were constructive and more so, well delivered.
Mr. Berkeley Wickham of GT&T made mention of the issue between the Council and his company about planting the poles on the Council’s reserves, and referred to this “haphazard” development now taking place in the city. The question of zoning was also one of his concerns.
The Red Thread spokes-person Andaiye also showed in her presentation that she had a good grasp of what was taking place in the capital while making a case for women vendors to be properly accommodated in any planning. She also touched on the Council’s handling of municipal matters.
Mr. Leon Dickson, the Guyana Post Office Corpora-tion’s presenter, spoke about the need for measures to be put in place for the streets and roads to be more accessible and for the numbering of house lots be regularised so as to make life easier for letter carriers.
He also urged the Council to get the Corporation more involved in its planning. Although he was not in agreement with the words Business Plan, preferring to substitute the word strategic, the People’s National Congress Reform’s, Mr. Vincent Alexander, was right on target and his contribution clearly showed his grasp of municipal affairs and the way in which the city ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ deal with municipal issues.
He called for the re-introduction of the ward system suggesting some new ideas for its administration, and the delineation of the roles of the Council and the Administra-tion, among other proposals.
It’s a pity that because of the time constraint, the invitees many of whom have been critical of the way in which the city is run, were not afforded the opportunity to pose questions to the presenters.