Five city officers sacked after audit office probe

Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud has ordered the sacking of five Georgetown municipality officers, including the substantive Town Clerk, Treasurer and Engineer, following the conclusion of a probe by the Audit Office into mismanagement at City Hall.

Mayor Hamilton Green was copied letters by Minister in the Local Government Ministry, Norman Whittaker, who informed of the termination of services of Town Clerk Yonette Pluck-Cort, City Engineer Gregory Erskine, acting City Treasurer Andrew Meredith, Director of the Solid Waste Management Unit Hubert Urlin, and Accounts Clerk Troy Isaacs “in the public interest,” with effect from December 31, 2012.

Pluck-Cort, Meredith, Erskine and Urlin along with Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe and Personnel Officer Paulette Braithwaite were sent on leave in July last year, pending the outcome of the investigation, which was triggered by a report on the city’s operations submitted by consultant Ramon Gaskin.

Gaskin’s findings included “phantom” workers on the city payroll, payments to front companies and the abuse of assets. The report, done as part of the work of a committee set up to assess progress by the city in implementing key reforms from the Keith Burrowes Inquiry into the municipality’s operations, also triggered a police investigation. Mayor Green only received letters for three of the officers, namely Pluck-Cort, Meredith and Erskine. But Minister Whittaker told this newspaper that five officers received termination letters in total and the other two were Urlin and Isaacs.

20130103fourIn the December 28th, 2012 letter advising the termination of services of Meredith, which was seen by this newspaper, Whittaker explained that the decision was based on the conclusion of an investigation into alleged mismanagement uncovered by Gaskin, who had accused several officers of major breaches.

Whittaker further advised Meredith that the probe, which was conducted by the Audit Office at the request of the Minister, found evidence that revealed “several acts of transgressions of policies, rules and regulations; negligence in the execution of your duties as City Treasurer ag. and consequential significant demeaning of the integrity of the Office of City Treasurer….”

He said Meredith abused his authority and tarnished the image of the municipality, saying that his “failure to achieve a reasonable standard of efficiency, progress and leadership” in the performance of his duties also contributed to a poor supervision of council staff and their inefficient performance.

“Under the circumstances described above, it behoves the Hon. Minister to take such step/steps that in his considered opinion are necessary to restore and redound to the improvements in the delivery of services to which the citizens of the Georgetown Municipality look forward,” he added.

Meanwhile, Green told reporters yesterday at a press conference that he was delighted at the action taken by the minister.

He also noted that the report he saw on the officers’ dismissals only dealt with a few of the issues he and the council had ex-pressed concern over for a number of years but he added that it brought closure and relief to what seemed to be a cycle of mismanagement.

“I hope that this action by the ministry is the precursor to similar actions at the national level, so that other areas of misdeed and apparent corruption are brought to closure, [and] so that the municipality has not been singled out for this treatment, which I have asked for many years and officers who are in breach should be dealt with,” Green added.

Advertisements for the positions will be posted soon by the City Council.

Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Resource ambassadors raise $14.5m for UG

Education resource ambassadors from various parts of the world who were recently here for a conference on improving UG have raised $14.5m for the university.

default placeholder

Northern carriageway of Carifesta Avenue closed to traffic

The northern carriageway of Carifesta Avenue has been closed to traffic. This is to facilitate ongoing improvement and lighting works to the thoroughfare.

The newly appointed Deputy Commissioner General Hema Khan (left) with Chairman of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Board Rawle Lucas. She was introduced during a press conference held yesterday.

GRA sacks heads of Customs, HR

Chairman of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Board Rawle Lucas yesterday announced a major shake-up in the management of the tax body, including the removal of the heads of its Customs and Human Resources divisions for unsatisfactory performance and the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner-General.

European Union Ambassador Jernej Videtič (left) hands over the Coastal Engineering Design Manual for Guyana Sea and River Defences to Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson. (Ministry of Public Infrastructure photo)

$2B in EU funding for sea defences

While urging the swift operationalisation of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), European Union (EU) Representative to Guyana Ambassador Jernej Videtič yesterday handed over a $2 billion cheque to Minister of Finance Winston Jordan to aid in improving the country’s sea and river defences.

Members of the City Constabulary in their ceremonial dress march along Regent Street yesterday prior to the arrival of the President. (Photo by Keno George)

Put citizens first

With the controversial parking meter contract instigating fractures within the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), President David Granger yesterday reminded city councillors that they are accountable to the citizens who voted them into office.

Injuried: Dhaniram Tribeni

Canal Number One businessman beaten, shot in home invasion

A Canal Number One businessman is now injured after he was beaten and shot early yesterday morning when armed bandits invaded his home and escaped with a quantity cash and jewellery.

default placeholder

City councillor accused of invading Town Clerk’s privacy

A city councillor has been accused of invading the privacy of Town Clerk Royston King and his family after contacting one of King’s daughters about the controversial trip he made to Mexico with the Mayor and other council members.

default placeholder

Chainsaw operator, 16, charged over rape of 10-yr-old

A 16-year-old chainsaw operator was yesterday charged with the rape of a child under the age of 16 years old and later released into the custody of his parents.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: