'Get act together' -- President tells City Council
Guyana Chronicle
December 9, 2006

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PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo is calling on the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to ‘get its act together’ and do a much better job at managing the finances of the city.

“They (M&CC) really need to do a better job at managing the finances of the city…or you will never get anything done,” President Jagdeo told reporters Sunday afternoon during a tour of the two state-of-the-art hotels going up at Providence on the East Bank Demerara.

According to the President, the M&CC has not paved a single road in the city for probably 10 years now, with all the paving works being done directly through the government.

“If we were to withdraw from the work that we are doing with regards to paving roads in the city…and the drainage works and the hundreds of millions of dollars that we pay in taxes every year, then you wouldn’t have anything done; so they need to focus a bit more on the management of their finances,” Mr. Jagdeo contended.

“I am very worried because we have set aside some $200M (to clean up and beautify Georgetown) and a lot of the paving work in the city is being done from that ($200M) even though Public Works (Ministry) does paving of city roads outside from the money that we have set aside…”

“…and we supply a significant amount of taxes to the City Council but yet still they have problems with their finances,” the President charged.

And taking an obvious jab at the seeming slothfulness by the council in getting simple works done, especially in light of the massive beautification and clean up campaign under way to improve the overall aesthetics of the city, President Jagdeo indicated that the government cannot rely on the council to get certain basic things done.

“A lot of money is being spent on this clean up exercise and a lot of work has to be done. Unfortunately the rains came early and we were relying more on the City Council, but they didn’t really start anything.”

“I had to call them several times and speak to them at the level of the Mayor and at the level of the Town Clerk to do simple things like taking down signs or cleaning up…,” the President lamented.

Noting that a “significant amount of money” has been set aside for the beautification campaign that was intended to be a City Council effort, President Jagdeo told reporters he is now chairing the committee spearheading the beautification drive due to the importance attached to the effort before the Cricket World Cup tournament here next year.

The committee includes representatives from several ministries, the City Council and the private sector.

“We are going to spend quite a bit of money on beautifying the city and also the East Bank corridor and part of the East Coast corridor (and) we have already started,” he said.

“We will be launching a tree planting exercise that will not probably come in for World Cup Cricket, but it will have a long term impact,” the President reported.

“We have to clean up the whole city – derelict buildings, old signs – we are doing the same thing on the East Bank corridor. So a lot of things are being done…,” the President said.

The government last month assembled a special task force under the direction of Cabinet to head and oversee the massive multi-million-dollar clean up and beautification of Georgetown and its environs.

President Jagdeo had given clear instructions for a major and long term clean up of the city and surrounding areas.

“I am giving notice; I don’t want to sound acrimonious or to sound harsh, but we have to clean up and this is not just a short term thing for World Cup Cricket - it is going to last beyond that and I have already given clear instructions,” he warned.

Speaking with reporters immediately after the formal and grand dedication ceremony for the cricket stadium at Providence, East Bank Demerara last month where some of the matches for Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 will be played, President Jagdeo said the beautification campaign has been stepped up.

On Sunday, he assured that the campaign was moving apace and a lot of work has already been done, but a significant amount still remains to be completed before the CWC tournament.

“We all want to see a clean place and a beautiful environment,” the President said last month, pointing out that this will be the first impression on the minds of tourists and others when they visit Guyana.

According to him, persons are not taking proper care of their properties and there needs to be an urgent paradigm shift in attitudes so that there is pride in living in a clean and beautiful environment.

With the evidence of neglect and in anticipation of upcoming major tourist events to be hosted by Guyana, especially the CWC 2007 tournament, the administration assembled a task force under Cabinet’s direction to head the Georgetown clean up and beautification effort.

In June this year, the government released $78M to the M&CC to commence the first phase of an ambitious $200M infrastructural project which entails refurbishing roads and drains and beautifying the capital city in a committed effort to improve its overall aesthetics.

The project is part of a wider and more elaborate multi-million-dollar plan that involves a collaborative approach by the government and the M&CC to give a facelift to the city.