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M&CC in a perpetual state of financial crisis (Pt one)

first_imgDear Editor,Most citizens of Georgetown, stakeholders and men-in-the-street are aware that the City Council is being mismanaged, because they are feeling the brunt effects on a daily basis.The frequent garbage removal disruptions is fresh in everyone’s mind, and will continue to be a problem, since those services have been outsourced to highly paid contractors.Georgetown continues to experience flooding in some areas due to the drains and canals not being cleaned, with some not being cleaned for years. Many of the buildings owned by Council have been falling apart for years, including the main City Hall building, the City Abattoir, and the markets — inclusive of Bourda, Stabroek and Albouystown.Many roads are in a state of disrepair, even though Council is responsible for their repair and maintenance. There is chaos and congestion on the streets and pavements due to lack of enforcement of existing laws and unlawful/selective permissiveness.Rates and fees are going up, but services are not being performed; while Council maintains a massive and highly paid staff of over 800 employees, in addition to highly paid contractors.Building codes are constantly being violated, and the City Constabulary has been embroiled in one scandal after another, while crime is prevalent in many Council areas.The Council is in a perpetual state of financial crisis, with no proper accountability or transparency for the billions of dollars spent over the years. In fact, it is so bad that the Auditor General has been unable to completely audit the books of the Council for many years, due to sloppy recording-keeping and missing records even though the necessity for proper accounting records and procedures have been raised and should be known to the Town Clerk and City Treasurer.The Council’s Finance Committee, headed by Councillor Oscar Clarke, approves all expenditure for the Council, but it has never presented any detailed reports of payments it has approved, or contracts which it has examined and approved. In other words, no contract for any project has ever been presented to the full Council for examination and approval, except for the parking meter contract, which was released under extreme public pressure.The Finance Committee has never presented any report on the people who were granted amnesty, reductions or waivers on interest on rates & taxes owed to Council. The 2018 budget for the Council has not yet been presented, and while some discussions were held, it was discovered by myself and a few Councillors that highly inaccurate and misleading financial information was included in the draft budget proposal, including $414 million in liabilities without any meaningful details.Laws governing tendering for products/services over $250,000 are routinely being disregarded, while the Town Clerk’s office waits until the problems become so large that massive contracts have to be handed out for issues that could have been resolved with routine maintenance and repairs.Council has been deducting National Insurance Scheme, Guyana Revenue Authority and Credit Union contributions from employees’ salaries, but has not been paying these sums of money to those entities which I first raised in the Council.In fact, the union representing the employees threatened strike action a few days ago, demanding that those contributions and outstanding salaries be paid immediately.No reports have ever been presented on the amounts owed to those entities, but when the City Treasurer Ron McCalmon was pressed for details at the last statutory meeting, he verbally reported that $138 million was owed to Guyana Revenue Authority for employees’ income taxes; $116 million plus $9 million in interest was owed to the National Insurance Scheme, and $36 million is owed to the employees’ credit union.I demanded that a written report be presented to all Councillors, but I am doubtful that it will ever be presented, since requests for many other reports have not been fulfilled by the Town Clerk, who is in charge of administration.Yours sincerely,Bishram Kuppen – CouncillorMayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetownlast_img read more