Home Letters M&CC should give Central Govt some money for taking up slack
Over the past few weeks, the Mayor of Georgetown has been expressing dissatisfaction with the manner in which Central Government has been doling out subventions to the City Council – a situation that has left quite a few citizens perplexed. From his utterances, it would seem as though the Council would be left immobilised and incapacitated without these subventions.
I would first like to remind the Mayor that from the time Georgetown gained official city status on August 24, 1842, up until relatively recently, the City was managed very well without a subvention, but, rather, on its own revenue generated from municipal fees and taxes.
Of course, at that time it did not have a nearly 1000 strong workforce that is extremely top heavy; it performed its own refuse collection and disposal services, and did not depend on expensive contractors; and it did not have a lot of fancy non-essential departments, which places a heavy financial burden on the citizenry.
But if the truth be told, I think it should be the Council that should be paying a subvention to the Central Government, and not the other way around. Let us look at just some of the services that the Council should be providing to the citizens of the capital from the property rates they collect, which have suddenly become the responsibility of the central Government.
In the past, the Council had its own incinerator, and managed its own landfill sites around the city for refuse disposal. Old Smokey collapsed in ruins, and the badly managed Le Repentir dumpsite would regularly burst into flames, smoking out all nearby residents. The result is that the Government had to borrow US$20 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to develop the Haags Bosch sanitary landfill.
All over the world, the role of the City Police is to maintain law and order in local areas by protecting members of the public and their property, preventing crime, reducing the fear of crime, and improving the quality of life for all citizens of that city. Not here in Georgetown; instead, the national Police have had to assume that role in the city whilst City Policemen spend their time chasing vendors around town, harassing stallholders and other business persons, and searching out any would-be litterer.
Stray animals have been allowed to roam the city streets with wild abandon, until the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to get involved in stray catching.
Slaughtering of animals and meat inspection came to a crashing halt when a crane which was involved in supporting offshore operations for the oil and gas industry toppled and crashed into the City abattoir. They seem to be awaiting a promise made by the Minister of Agriculture for the construction of a number of modern abattoirs across the country, with the aim of boosting beef and pork production.
Most of the drainage pumps around the city have been left by the Council in a state of disrepair for a number of years. Central Government has had to purchase, install, manage and maintain dozens of mobile and stationary pumps to relieve flooding.
Road construction and maintenance of city streets – and I am not talking about the declared and main roads that are the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Works – have long been abandoned by the City Council, and again left to Central Government for remedial. Same with bridges.
And if we are to venture into city public health matters, fogging for mosquitoes is now done by Central Government; day care services have been shuttered and left up to private facilities; sanitary inspection around the city is no longer done by City Hall, and the list goes on and on.
In fact, the municipality have refused to even maintain their own buildings, including the historic City Hall edifice, and are instead expecting Central Government to restore it and also construct an Admin building for them.
Shouldn’t the City take a part of the billions they collect yearly from the citizenry and hand it over to Central Government for all the slack that the Government has taken up around the city?