Salaries for LGC Commissioners, employees delayed – source

The Local Government Commission (LGC) has been in the limelight over the past weeks for several decisions and operating procedures, which raised eyebrows and questions into its function.
However, another development surfaced on Saturday when an informed source revealed that salaries for employees of the constitutional body are yet to be paid.
Guyana Times was informed that the vouchers were yet to be signed by the Permanent Secretary, Emil McGarrell of the Communities Ministry, who, according to sources, has to wait on approval from Minister Ronald Bulkan.
Since payments during early December, staffers have not received any payments, and it was insisted that these monies should have already been disbursed.
“They went through the details of the budget, both the Finance Ministry and the Local Government Commission. It was approved, but the voucher wasn’t signed off, so nobody received any money since the first part of December when payments were last made. Given the fact that they paid very early in December, this money should’ve already been in. Apparently, this money is still administered under the Permanent Secretary and he still has to take instructions from Bulkan before signing them,” the source said.
Other matters raised included the operations at the Commission since it was sworn in and the fact that Bulkan has been actively involved in activities of the Commission. With the establishment of the LGC, some responsibilities which the Minister held were transferred to the agency. As such, the source, who is an employee, expressed that this is somewhat affecting the work of the Commission.
According to the source, “this is preventing the Commission from operating as a constitutional body. The Commission has to deal with appointments and dismissal and a host of things that the Minister would usually do. They have not recognised the Commission as a constitutional body. The Communities Minister still wants to be in control of the Local Government Commission. They were having this problem since the swearing-in of the Commission.”
Letters addressing these issues were dispatched to Attorney General Basil Williams; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and even President David Granger.
“No one is dealing with this. The Commission has written several – the Attorney General several times as well as the Minister of State. They even wrote the President to bring it to his attention and no one is responding to these concerns. With the way the Commission is functioning, it is not an independent body, but one that is being manipulated,” the source added.
After City Hall’s Commission of Inquiry report was submitted, the Commission was expected to make a pronouncement on the recommendations. Officers were asked to present themselves and some, including the embattled Town Clerk, Royston King appeared last week.
However, Commissioner Carol Sooba was prohibited from all discussions on the report’s findings. Initially, it was proposed that she recuse herself from one meeting, which focused on her benefits. However, the Chairman, Mortimer Mingo, pursued a course of action to excuse her completely.
Fellow Commissioner Clinton Collymore had opined that Sooba was experienced on the Mayor and City Council’s operations and the LGC was allegedly attempting a cover-up. He also hinted that this outcome is linked to a political card, played by the Chairman to dissolve some of the recommendations in the report.
“There are other reasons for this. One of the reasons is that she was at the municipality for a very long time and she has some institutional knowledge as to what is going on and they don’t want that exposed,” Collymore expressed. (Rupadai Seenarine)