Motorcyclists hired in the Rupununi by GECOM still awaiting payment

Dear Editor,
I am a resident of the Rupununi who owns a motorcycle. In February of 2008, GECOM issued contracts to hire motorcycles to assist with their registration programmes. At the time of the hiring of the motorcycles the Registration Officer of Lethem stated that GECOM did not have money at their disposal to pay for the hires but all payments would have been done two weeks after conclusion of the work.

This work was concluded in April 2008 but from then to now payment for the work undertaken has not been fully made. There are a number of persons who undertook the GECOM hires that still remain to be paid.

A number of reasons were put forward by the officials of GECOM for the non-payment. Initially it was because of lack of funds. Then afterwards it was said that there was no Registration Officer (RO) so payments would have to wait until after the appointment. When the new RO was appointed he then implemented a regulation that the registration of the motorcycles would have to first be provided before payment could be effected. When the registration papers were provided, the RO claimed that he did not have enough money to pay for the hires. Eventually this RO also resigned and another appointment was made. This new appointment tried to have the monies paid but then realised that the previous RO did not submit all of the necessary claims thus the payments did not coincide with the claims submitted. Some claims were also completely lost thus no payments were possible.

This situation has now been onging for over a year and it seems that no end is in sight. Calls to higher level management at the GECOM office in Georgetown has also been fruitless as they were unwilling to intervene in the situation. All that was forthcoming was that the Lethem office would have to do the necessary representation before any payments could be made.

So, while GECOM took its own leisurely time to sort out its personal administrative chaos (including a high turnover of Registration Officers and loss of claims) the persons who were owed had to simply sit and wait. No consideration seemed to be given that their excessive sloth was causing a lot of hardship to the local contractors who had families to feed and clothe.

It is now more than a year after the promised date of payment by GECOM and still no word on when these payments will actually be made.
The latest that was stated was that the outstanding claims that were made to the previous RO cannot be located thus payments cannot be made. Whose fault is this? The contractors? Most definitely not!

This fault lies entirely with GECOM. Indeed this whole fiasco must be blamed on the administration of GECOM since it was their appointed staff that were responsible for issuing the contracts and thus are also responsible for payments.

Now nothing is being said about alternative steps that GECOM would take to ensure payments are made. There is genuine fear that, since the accounts of 2008 are now most likely closed, the outstanding payments will not be honoured. This feeling is magnified when GECOM refuses to appease the contractors’ fears by at least making a commitment to honour the payments.

Many persons who undertook these GECOM hires are poor persons who thought that this was a genuine means of earning an income. Little did they know the amount of problems and headaches that they brought upon themselves in trying to receive payment for an honest day’s work.
It is hoped that this letter catches the eye of the necessary authorities so that action can be taken to settle all outstanding payments.
Yours faithfully,
(Name and address
provided)

Editor’s note
We are sending a copy of this letter to the Guyana Elections Commission for any comments they might wish to make.

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