Peeping Tom: As a political party which once commanded some 43 per cent of those who voted in an election, a percentage which has now been reduced to 35 per cent, the PNCR can offer little excuses for having found itself in a situation where it owes large sums of money to the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.
And the Mayor and City Council has so far not convinced the public that enough has been done over the years to collect the outstanding sums.
It is a disgrace that a political party of the stature of the People’s National Congress Reform, a party which under Desmond Hoyte promised this nation that it would launch an economic arm to engage in large scale investments, could fail so glaringly in its civic responsibility to pay it rates and taxes to the Georgetown municipality.
If the excuse of the PNCR for having run up a debt in the payment of these rates is that it is in financial difficulties, then that is even sadder because the PNCR is a party with significant support among the people of Guyana and all it will take is a public appeal to its supporters to help in the payment of these rates and within one month, the requisite sums would be found.
Why then has the PNCR not done this? And why has the city’s municipality not taken greater steps to ensure that it collected these sums?
Obviously, the PNCR is not the only ratepayer that owes Town Hall, but as a party which is vying for political office the PNCR should have set a better example and ensured that it was not in default because whatever the sums owed to the municipality, that amount could have done a great deal to improve the affairs of Georgetown.
The party now finds itself exposed and unable now to condemn the government for starving the municipality of funds because whenever it raises this argument its critics will point to its own debt to the council.
The government will have to make a decision on what action its plans to take against the Council for not moving more aggressively in recovering this debt.
But the government does not need this issue to do what it should have done a long time ago and that is to dissolve the council and appoint an interim management committee as was done in Linden.
The City of Georgetown is too important to be left to this ongoing saga of excuses and intrigue within City Hall. This situation must be brought to an end.
The City Council has one set of excuses to offer all the time— that it is denied funds because the government has refused to approve of new sources revenues. Well if the record of the council over the past fifteen years is anything to judge by, then the government is absolutely correct in denying additional revenues.
The city had for years been able to maintain certain critical services such as garbage collection even with its so- called limited financial base.
Now suddenly over the past few years, the Council is finding it problematic to pay the garbage collectors and in some instances had problems paying its staff.
But even though pouring money into the Council is not likely to make much of a difference, the PNCR has an obligation to set a better example as a major party and to ensure that its rates and taxes are paid up.
What message is the PNCR sending to the electorate of this country when it finds itself in debt to the municipality?
If it cannot meet its obligations towards its own buildings, how can the party be trusted again with the future of this country? And how can it stand in the way of the government now dissolving the Council and appointing an interim management committee to administer the affairs of the city.