Local Govt Ministry awaiting audit on several municipalities
Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall has said that Ministry is currently awaiting the Auditor General’s report on the operation of all municipalities, including Georgetown.
The Minister told DPI that since taking office, he has tried to engage the councillors of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council to discuss the works they have undertaken. However, he said, his attempts have been rebuffed, forcing the Government to go ahead and conduct works to enhance the city.
“I am aware of a lot of transgressions, like financial transgressions, procurement transgressions that has happen in the City Hall over the last year. So, I have spoken to the Mayor on numerous occasions about the conduct of the Council, who gets into administration, which it does not have any authority to do. This includes hiring and firing and determining administrative issues of the city,” the Minister is quoted as saying.
Dharamlall also said discussions with City Treasurer John Douglas revealed some alarming findings, including that the Council spent about $120 million on staffing. The Council employed 707 persons, including over 250 pensioners.
Further, between 2016 and 2019, the Council raised over $12.7 billion, but it remains unclear where those funds are kept.
“The Government, from our end, we have a responsibility to ensure that city, one, as the capital of the country and also as the centre of business, and the residents of that…we cannot wait on City Council to enhance Georgetown,” he said.
To this end, the Ministry has partnered with various Ministries to conduct infrastructural works which target roads, bridges, canals, markets and other infrastructure.
This led to commencement of rehabilitation works at the East La Penitence, East Ruimveldt and Mon Repos markets during the last quarter of 2020. The Government also started clean-up exercises during the Christmas season in Georgetown.
Dharamlall said $75 million was allocated to this initiative, and of this sum, $25 million was expended to conduct the cleaning exercise.
“We have provided resources to various Neighbourhood Democratic Council areas, and some of the areas got $5 million, $6 million in different regions. We also spend resources on Corriverton, Rose Hall, Anna Regina among other agencies,” the Minister said. He added that the works done to date have been very satisfactory, and the Ministry intends to continue and expand this initiative.