– Urling urges local government reform, elections
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry Clinton Urling says businesses must take some of the responsibility for the “thoughtless dumping, littering” in the capital.
Asserting that sections of both the citizenry and the business community had to share the blame for the condition of the capital, Urling said the problem had to do with “poor indoctrination and socialisation of our people as to the perils… of their actions.” The Chamber President also told Stabroek Business that there was an “obvious lack of enforcement and punishment from our monitoring and enforcement institutions.”
Meanwhile Urling disclosed that a meeting earlier this week between representatives of the Chamber and the Georgetown Municipality had agreed that the route to remedial measures to the problems facing the municipality reposes in local government reform and subsequent local government elections.
Urling told Stabroek Business that the purpose of the Chamber’s meeting with the municipality was to address “the systemic issues facing the Georgetown Mayor and City Council.”
Urling said reform must give democratic power to the people of the local government constituencies as this would result in “more autonomy” and a shift away from the current executive system that places “enormous power” in the hands of the Local Government Minister.
According to the GCCI President, there continued to be concern over the fact that local government elections had been delayed for several years, a circumstance which he said had to be addressed “and legislation adopted to ensure that local government elections are not delayed beyond regular four or five years terms.”
Urling told Stabroek Business that it was no secret that the Chamber and every business and all citizens were not pleased with the current operations of the municipality. The Mayor and City Council, he added, had to be part of the reform process to strengthen its institutional capacity at all levels in order to ensure a system that is responsive to the citizenry on Georgetown.
And according to Urling, while the prevailing rates and taxes regime will have to come under review as part of a holistic assessment of the operations of the M&CC, the council, in the meantime, “must use whatever tools it has at its disposal to collect rates and taxes.” He said that judicial action should be taken in some cases and amnesty on interest in others.
On the question of street vending Urling said that while arcades and markets are propositions that ought to be on the municipality’s agenda, there was the issue of whether or not the Council had the finances to address this. What is needed is not plaster and window-dressing initiatives but real substantive reform that addresses the core of the problem, Urling said, adding that
“campaigns and public relations opportunities would not solve the issues plaguing the city.”
Urling told Stabroek Business that in the period ahead the chamber would move to become more vocal about local government reform and elections and that in the coming months the GCCI would be rolling out a strategy aimed at reminding our policy stakeholders of their responsibilities.