City budget still elusive -List of loans and advances seen as obstacle City Council Roundup
by Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
April 26, 2004

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"Recapturing the beauty of the garden city" was the theme of the Georgetown City Council's 2003 budget which was presented on March 14 last year.

With April 2004 just four days away Deputy Mayor and chairman of the council's Finance Committee Robert Williams is still to outline publicly the municipal's estimates of expenditure and revenue for this year.

An enquiry by this column revealed one major obstacle to budget presentation. It has to do with the preparation of the list by the city treasurer's department naming the persons who have received loans and advances over a two-year period, amounting to about $30M. Councillor Junior Garrett of the People's National Congress Reform was selected to verify the list. At the last statutory meeting of the council there was disagreement around the horseshoe-shaped table among city 'fathers' and 'mothers' on what should be done after the verification. Some councillors including Gwen McGowan, Patricia Chase-Green of the Good and Green Guyana (GGG), and Fitzgerald Agard of the PPP/C argued that the list should be circulated to all councillors as well as members of the Finance committee before a general debate on the document.

The revelation that certain staff members of the council had been receiving these loans and advances shocked some councillors who called for a thorough investigation and the intervention of the Auditor-General was sought. By whom, no one knows. Fingers were pointed at the Mayor and his Deputy.

Unfortunately the Deputy Mayor has not achieved his goal with some persons substituting another word for garden to describe the Guyana capital.

He's gone again

City 'fathers' and 'mothers' were informed by way of a round-robin letter circulated last Friday that Mayor Hamilton Green would once again be out of Guyana.

According to the letter of notification which was signed by a majority of councillors the Mayor who left over the weekend would be visiting South Korea and Washington in the United States.

Mayor Green's frequent trips abroad have been questioned by at least two members of the GGG party of which he is the leader. While others hold the same view, they are hesitant to express their feelings publicly. The deputy mayor apart from filling in for the 'chief citizen' has to deal with the 2004 budget which is long overdue.

This column could not ascertain whether Mayor Green had gone on council's business or his own. He is entitled to US$50, when he travels, as per diem.

A Good Samaritan

While the city council flounders in search of benefactor to repair one of the two Liliendaal pumps a certain business enterprise is remaining steadfast in its commitment to the municipality.

This is about another pump sited at the Kitty seawall. Georgetown Seafoods Trading Company Ltd on the East Bank of Demerara, through its managing director Mr Lloyd Piggott, having undertaken several years ago the rehabilitation of the Kitty pump station which had fallen into disrepair has once again answered the council's SOS.

On this occasion Mr Piggott and his engineering team have replaced a key component of the system rendering it operative, at no cost to taxpayers.

Several years ago when the station had collapsed with no attention being paid to its maintenance, residents of Kitty and Campbellville had to contend with flooded yards and streets.

Traffic along certain parts of the seawall had to be diverted because of the makeshift arrangement put in place by the council to drain the land.

The company's intervention resulted in a new building being constructed to accommodate the pump and facilities for security personnel which includes a small cot and bathroom. Mr Piggott was a former member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the city.

It's time for the city council to recognise in a tangible way this act of corporate responsibility.

Getting into the act

The New Life Ministries Pentecostal religious body headquartered in Queenstown is branching out into the educational field.

An approach has been made to city hall for permission to set up a school on vacant land on Crown Street in Queenstown, now owned by the religious group which also has plans for developing the adjacent lot which now accommodates a basketball court at the corner of Crown and Albert Streets.

The council at one time had great plans for developing the basketball court site into a sport and recreation area and had installed a lighting system.

The council's inability to properly monitor and even maintain the facility has caused many residents in the area to complain about the behaviour of some of the persons who use the court and congregate at the street corner.