PNCR seeking to settle debt to City Hall

The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is currently working out an arrangement with the PNCR to recover millions the party owes to the municipality, as it seeks to avoid yet another garbage crisis hitting Georgetown.

Public Relations Officer of the M&CC Royston King told Stabroek News yesterday that the municipality has sent out demand notices to a number of defaulting rate payers, including the PNCR, which Local Government Minister Kellawan Lall recently stated, is defaulting on its payments by in excess of $100 million.

While he said he could not disclose the exact amount owed by the PNCR, King revealed that the party is in contact with the City Treasurer’s Department with which it is working out a payment arrangement.

Last week, when asked about the party’s debts to the city, PNCR leader Robert Corbin demurred on the sum. “The party like any other institution has bills to pay and we have accounts for several local authorities, which we have continuously tried to pay, but I am not in a position to give any specifics,” he said. Corbin added, “But it is quite possible that we do owe rates and taxes, not only to the city of Georgetown [but] wherever we own property and we always try to honour those commitments.”

Meanwhile, on the outstanding sums owed to garbage contractors, Cevon’s Waste Management Services and Puran Brothers Waste Disposal Service, King said City Hall is hoping to meet these payments with income obtained from rate payers. He said the municipality is hoping to avoid another garbage crisis and asked that the contractors understand the current financial state of affairs at the M&CC.

City Hall recently brokered a deal with Central Government to end the last garbage crisis, with the administration agreeing to release some $41 million.

The council was expected to augment that figure with an additional $5 million to cover some two months of arrears to the garbage contractors who had withdrawn their services for three weeks, resulting in heaps of garbage piles being built up around the city as households searched for alternatives to dispose of their waste.

City Hall owes an outstanding sum of $34 million to the contractors.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, speaking after a recent meeting between government and the council – from which Mayor Hamilton Green was excluded – had said that the point was emphatically made that efforts must be intensified when collection of garbage would have resumed for a significant reduction in the garbage overflow.

He said the records perused showed that funds are spent at City Hall on activities which do not result in services which benefit citizens, adding that too much was spent on administration. Singh stated that City Hall’s expenditure needs to be examined and re-oriented. Officials at the Ministry of Local Government were expected to meet officials of the council last week to discuss a way forward.

The garbage crisis, which only ended last week, began when garbage collectors withdrew their services after not receiving payment from City Hall; the outstanding sum had ballooned to $75 million. After the contractors withdrew their services, garbage piled up in the city, with much of it being dumped indiscriminately at street corners. In other instances, residents paid to have their refuse removed as persons took advantage of the situation, organizing their own garbage collection services, charging sums between $300 and $500 for removal of a bin full of garbage.

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