Friday, August 13, 2010

Garbage collection crisis clearly exhausted the patience of the administration and taxpayers-Luncheon

Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday said poor municipal management is the real issue that needs to be addressed by City Hall, an issue that has not received the attention it should. Luncheon said, “The City Council was provided with another respite and the city taxpayers have heaved a sigh of relief…this intervention takes place as a cash-strapped Council continues to dither and defer dealing with the real issues that affect the Council and, as a consequence, the taxpayers of Georgetown – poor municipal management.”
At his weekly post cabinet press briefing, the HPS also responded to comments by Mayor Hamilton Green that the City Council will not be dictated to about how its funds are spent.
Luncheon declared that the Mayor was playing with words and using a “terrible event” to engage in a “useless pastime”.
“There are sufficient provisions in the law governing the municipality that would not allow the Council and the Mayor to ignore the reality and continue to impose on the taxpayers of Georgetown their own prescription, particularly with the use of municipal financing,” he said.
Luncheon opined that the law would not support this and added that neither would the Georgetown taxpayers.
He pointed out that the citizens, given this respite, would not turn around and allow the Mayor and “his ilk on the council to squander and to use the funds in the well-documented, irregular non-financial ways,” as it has in the past.
In the last weeks, the problems with garbage collection and the role of the City Hall has caused an upset in the Garden City.
However, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Kellawan Lall Tuesday announced that Central Government has decided to use the money it owes for rates and taxes to help City Hall meet its contractual obligations to the private garbage collectors. Lall said that government owes the city $80M and that this will be used to pay Cevon’s Waste Management and Puran Brothers.
These decisions are a direct result of a meeting with President Bharrat Jagdeo, Minister Lall and the private contractors who agreed to return to work once some monies were paid.
Several weeks ago, independent garbage disposal contractors with the city withdrew their services because of City Hall’s inability to pay them for services.
Luncheon said the garbage collection crisis has “clearly exhausted the patience of the administration and taxpayers and has brought much disrepute to Guyana and the capital city,” and as much as Green may want to quibble about the use of taxpayers’ collections, the most pressing issue is the garbage that is accumulating and poisoning the city.
“Quibble as he might, I still think that the urgency of the situation will see them responding in the appropriate way,” the HPS said.
Luncheon maintained that if City Hall would carefully husband and properly allocate its resources, it would be able to discharge its responsibilities.
Luncheon said, “These interventions are essentially letting this cabal off the hook....I am supportive of interventions being made whether by the government or non-state actors. Institutionalising this approach, in the context of preserving this Council, is not a good option. It is not a suitable alternative.”
The HPS pointed out that every time there is a resort to non-municipal financing, it seems to entrench this “wilful, unaccountable behaviour of the Council, ‘we gon be bailed out’.”
He noted too that there is a general feeling in City Hall that the patience of the taxpayers is inexhaustible,
Luncheon said, “We have to put an end to this kind of reasoning that is coming either explicitly from the Mayor who says ‘you can’t tell how I must spend the taxes’, or by implication, when they don’t pay workers, don’t discharge their contractual obligations to the private contractors, and they find all other imaginable uses for municipal finances.”
He observed that the government has assumed increasing responsibility for the city, including drainage and health services.

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