By Jeff Trotman
Chairman of the Linden Interim Management Committee (IMC), Orrin Gordon is dissatisfied with how the current PPP/C government has been treating the town.
Stressing that 2013 was a very tough year for the Linden municipality, Gordon said the failure of the government to put in place the various committees that were agreed to following the 2012 electricity protest, has left the residents in stress and uncertainty.
He said the residents expected that progress on the economic, land and electricity rate evaluation committees along with a Region Ten television station would have been more advanced.
“Unfortunately, that has not happened,” Gordon said at a press conference in the Mayor’s Parlour on Tuesday. “I have to be very frank,” he added, “from my point of view, the state has been very dilatory in this process and that questions the entire process of genuineness where the issue of Linden is concerned and the well-being and welfare of members of the community.
“So, obviously, that would have left us with some kind of anxiety and stress … and, therefore, we have to take note of that because it is important. We’re not a community that just jumped out of the sky. We’ve been here for a very long time. We’ve been in the local economic process for some time now through the production of bauxite, which used to be one of the pillars of the economy and, therefore, should not be left out in any way in coming up with a programme.
“The Constitution says that each Region, each municipality, the local organ, has the responsibility of self determination. And if you have the responsibility of self determination, therefore, all must be done to ensure that people are taking part in their development – they are being consulted with in terms of what happens for their development and the suggestions, discussions and issues that would emanate should be taken on board and that is how we believe the thrust should be.”
Stating that the closure of the municipality’s highest revenue earner, the Kara Kara Toll Point in August last year “was a real hard blow to the municipality,” the IMC Chairman disclosed that “the municipality is still struggling from that blow and there is no seeming solution on the horizon in terms of filling that gap at the moment”.
He said the municipality has submitted a budget to the Ministry of Local Government, which the ministry has determined to be incomplete. Admitting that the budget was submitted late, Gordon said the municipality is asking for an explanation of the term incomplete. “We even went further and did a cash flow for them, which is not customary and that has not been signed on as yet by the Ministry.
He said since the issue with the Kara Toll point has been closed, the Linden Town Clerk has been instructed to refrain from collecting any money for the municipality from the toll point. “So, if we had gone out there and collected money, we couldn’t put it into the system,” Gordon stressed.
He said the Ministry of Local Government went even further by sending a letter to the bank, instructing it not to accept deposits to the town council’s account from anyone other than the town clerk or the treasurer of the town council. Noting that the town council currently has an acting treasurer, Mr. Bremner, who has been seconded from the Regional Democratic Council, Region Ten, Gordon said: “This is the ridiculousness of the situation – this is what the government and the regime has brought us down to …. In the past any clerk could go and deposit money. Now, only the town clerk and the treasurer can do that. But instead of going into the bank and line up for a long period, they would send a clerk to hold space. So, when the clerk reaches up to about two or three spaces away from the counter, the clerk would go outside and call the town clerk or the treasurer to the bank. But, sometimes, by the time the treasurer or town clerk gets there, they lose the space and they have to go back all over again,” the IMC Chairman chuckled before seriously stating: “That’s the ignorance that this system has people enduring – and this system got to be stopped. This is not management, this Mickey Mouse. This is foolishness.”
He stressed that if a clerk collects money on behalf of the town council and cannot bank it and the money is hanging around, the clerk can be charged for extortion in the first instance and embezzlement subsequently.
Gordon said the government has deliberately dehumanized the workers of the Linden Municipality and the workers along with the residents of the town will have to stand up against the atrocity. “There is a limit to the amount of foolishness that people must accept and this is too much,” the Linden IMC Chairman said.
On Monday, Stabroek News reported that more than sixteen months after the landmark deal was signed between the government and Region 10 to end five weeks of unrest on electricity tariffs which saw police killing three protesters, none of the committees set up have produced results and the long-awaited TV station is still not on air.