Government, city relations improve
- tax payments only a year in arrears
Stabroek News
June 6, 2004

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The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) said its relationship with central government has improved to the extent that outstanding taxes only relate to last year.

The M&CC had previously complained bitterly about some government agencies not paying their taxes.

In his budget presentation recently, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams said a joint committee was established and began addressing issues relating to regularisation of undeveloped areas such as; Sophia, Rasville and Yarrow Dam. Additionally, the committee will look into house lots for municipal workers, the Georgetown Development Plan, development of D'Urban Park and the Georgetown Seawall area from Pegasus to Kitty pump, Vlissengen Road.

In terms of its policy, Williams said the council held 25 statutory and 96 committee meetings for last year. These meetings he said addressed policy and administrative issues. During the period, the council held two special meetings which addressed issues such as the city's business plan, Georgetown Development Plan, amendments to the city's legislation among other things.

He noted that it was felt that municipal elections should be held urgently since there is need for a mandate. Alternatively, the view is also held that elections for mayors and deputies and chairmen and deputies should be held.

With regard to administration, Williams said the council continues to suffer from a lack of commitment by some employees, inadequate supervision of lower level of workers, lack of appreciation of the need to adopt to new techniques and systems in a changing environment and lack of adequate training.

Williams added that these deficiencies contributed to the criticisms made by citizens and the public at large.

The deputy mayor also noted that the council did not benefit last year from maximum use of its staff structures. "Employment costs must bear relationship to production and productivity. In too many areas of council's activities the employment costs were high, but citizens have not seen the results."

Touching on the council's financial reports, Williams said while audits of council's finances up to the year 2000 were completed, regrettably the financial report for the period 2001-2003 is still to be done and submitted to the Auditor General.

"This does not augur well for the council in the light of the progress made before."

Williams said the administration has been given a mandate to have same completed before the end of this year.

In the area of meat and food inspection, Williams reported that despite releasing some members of staff to function in the public health section the department performed creditably. In the area of inspection and slaughtering of animals a total of 10,627 animals were slaughtered. Further, inspections were carried out at several business premises including restaurants and other eating houses, cold storage facilities and all of the city's markets.

Williams said appropriate action was taken against all who breached the by-laws and other regulations.

The Deputy Mayor also mentioned that the council continued during the period to manage five municipal markets in the city. He said the Stabroek Market was rehabilitated at a cost of $240M. There were also slight improvements in the physical aspects of the Bourda and East Ruimveldt markets, while Kitty and La Penitence continue to be of serious concern in terms of their physical state.

According to Williams while the Kitty and Bourda markets are listed for improvements under the Inter-American Development Bank programme, council is concerned that such programmes are being pursued too slowly and are subjected to unnecessary studies.

Meanwhile, the City Engineer's Department functioned with a shortage of 43 employees in the various sections. Four of the department's key building inspectors were pursuing on-the-job training in valuation, assessment and property values. This, according to Williams contributed to some reduced efficiency.

"The council was not satisfied with the performance in some areas, which in its view was due to lack of supervision."

Williams said this situation is not only known to the council, but the general public most of whom are property owners who observe and draw to the attention of councillors and administration the sloppy work done. Williams asserted that the administration has recommended solutions to these problems which will be addressed.