8 months after LGE 2023: “City Council is a talk shop, nothing gets done”- PPP/C Councillor

…says Councillors still do not know City Council’s assets

Describing the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) as a talk shop where nothing gets done despite their best efforts, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councilor Alfonso De Armas is spilling the beans on what it is like around the horseshoe table over eight months after he won a seat there.
In last year’s Local Government Elections (LGE), the PPP/C won five of the 15 constituencies, an increase from three in 2018. De Armas, one of the party’s five councillors, in a recent interview expressed frustration at the lack of progress on the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) majority-controlled council, which is overseen by Mayor Alfred Mentore.

PPP/C Councillor, Alfonso De Armas

“We’re a new council. Most of us are first time counsellors. Been there eight, nine months. And already, it has been the most frustrating, unproductive time that we have seen at council. First thing is, we do not have the majority, and council is just a talk shop. It’s an exercise in frustration. And nothing ever gets done. We sit around the horse shoe for hours. Deliberate and make all sorts of grand plans. And in the end, nothing gets implemented.”
According to De Armas, he has attracted the moniker of “Mr. Timeline” due to his continuous effort to attach a timeline to the decisions being taken at City Council. Nevertheless, there is still no progress when it comes to implementing these decisions.
One of the problems being faced by the council right now, continues to be accounting for finances and even the assets of the council. Shockingly, De Armas revealed that more than eight months after their election to the City Council, they still do not know how many assets the council owns due to the lack of an updated asset register.
“One thing that we’ve all been insistent on, is the financial statements and status of council. Because without our financial house in order, its very difficult for us to get anything done. And over the last 20 years, council has only submitted financial statements for six of those years. There’s no asset register. Bank statements have not been reconciled since 2021. It’s in dire straits.”
“And I have personally written to the mayor on multiple occasions, requesting that financial information be compiled and released to councillors, so that we can make proper, evidence based, data driven decisions. And none of that has happened. And until the financial affairs of council are fixed, then it’s very difficult for council to make decisions on upgrading and maintaining the assets,” he further said.
In 2018, the PPP had secured 6813 votes in Georgetown, but at last year’s LGE polls, ballots in its favour almost doubled to 12,256. The Party’s support base increased in areas such as Kingston, Sophia, Albouystown, Tucville, East Ruimveldt, and West Ruimveldt.

The horseshoe table where the Georgetown M&CC meets

The five PPP councilors arrived at City Hall at a time when the city was still unable to account for past monies. For years, concerns have been raised by Auditor General Sharma about the lack of financial accountability at City Hall.
City Council did not submit financial statements to the Audit Office for 2006, 2008 to 2011, 2017 and 2020, making it impossible to effectively audit the millions of public funds that have passed through the Council’s hands.
Last year, the Auditor General had revealed that he met with the new Mayor, Mentore, and his finance team. During that meeting, Sharma explained that he gave City Hall a way forward to settle its accounts, which they will present to the Council and return with feedback to the Audit Office. That way forward, he had said, was for the City to get their asset register in order.
The Auditor General had further advised them that they should do a stock and cash count and produce a new financial statement. A recommendation was also made for the City Council to outsource this job. (G3)