Controversy hits Local Government Commission

City Hall’s CoI report

…as Commissioner barred from meetings

By Rupadai Seenarine

Deliberations upon the recommendations which were formulated by the Commission of Inquiry into City Hall, has led to controversary with the Local Government Commission (LGC) – a body which is tasked with implementing the recommendations.
Guyana Times was told that Commissioner Carol Sooba was asked to recuse

Commissioner Carol Sooba

herself from one of the sittings which dealt with the recommendation to have her be paid her benefits from City Hall. This publication was told that while Sooba agreed and recused herself from that particular sitting, she was subsequently asked to remove herself from all of the other meetings.
After the CoI report was handed over to the Commission, the LGC was responsible for deciding and implementing the findings. Further, it was for LGC to decide whether criminal charges should be filed against employees of City Hall who were found culpable of wrongdoings. However, since November, there has been no development as to what is in store for the local organ body and the public was not briefed on the status of the investigation.
When contacted on Friday, Commissioner Carol Sooba related that being a former employee at City Hall, one of the recommendations was that she should be paid her benefits. She confirmed that she was asked by her fellow Commissioners to recuse herself from a particular meeting where those discussions would be convened.
While noting that the committee was disgruntled about this recommendation, Sooba said she was told afterwards that she cannot sit on the meeting to discuss

Chairman of the LGE, Mortimer Mingo

other matters upon the persistence of the Chairman, Mortimer Mingo and Vice-Chairman, Andrew Garnet. She revealed that she was instructed to remove some of the recommendations from the report as well.
“They would have wanted me to take out things from the report…They told me I would have to recuse myself when they have to discuss my benefits and I said that was fine. That’s good but then the Chairman and Vice Chairman insisted that I should not sit through any meetings for the entire report,” the Commissioner explained.
As tensions continue to brew among the senior officials of the LGC, Sooba affirmed that she was constitutionally elected as a Commissioner and should be able to perform her duties without any hindrance or interference.
“I’m a constitutional office-holder. I am a Commissioner. If I recuse myself from my matter, there is no issue on any other matter that I should recuse myself but for some reason, they want me to recuse myself from the entire thing.”
During Friday’s confrontation, there was also a division between Commissioners on whether the she should sit to hear the other matters.
“They put out all the officers from the meeting to have a close-door discussion and there was a division. I’m not recusing myself from the meeting. This is not recusing me. This is you’re putting me out of the meeting. For my rights as Commissioner, I cannot function. They have no authority to put me out of a meeting,” she stated.
One of the first outlines on the list of recommendations called on the Commission to enforce disciplinary measures against senior staffers of the Town Council with the Town Clerk, Royston King as the chief for gross misconduct.
Criminal charges were recommended for King, since he leased lands which are owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
Disciplinary actions also followed for the Acting Town Clerk, Sharon Harry Munroe; Internal Auditor, Omadeily Newton; City Constable, Andrew Foo; Human Resources Manager, Paula Braithwaite among other officers at City Hall.
Along with the reimbursement of monies to Bourda vendors whose stalls were destroyed, the Commission called for unfixed employees to be placed on the fixed schedule after serving seven years.
Contrarily, for contractors and retirees that are owed, the Government was suggested as the way forward in clearing these debts.
Pending the outcome from the Commission, King was sent on administrative leave on September 21, 2018.
Commencing on September 22, the CoI hosted 15 sittings in which 50 persons testified. The hearings were completed on November 2 and the report was crafted after “herculean” efforts.
Guyana Times was unable to contact LGC Chairman, Mortimer Mingo for a comment on the matter.