Support will continue for ‘visionless’ City Hall


– local govt polls likely in 2012, Jagdeo says


President Bharrat Jagdeo said yesterday that his government will continue to support the “visionless” City Hall until the holding of local government elections, now likely to be in 2012.

Responding to a question on Friday about government’s support to the cash-strapped City Hall, Jagdeo said his administration has no option but to continue to help the council.  “We will have to continue to help… and I’ve said to my ministers let’s be as helpful as possible,” Jagdeo said. “But at the same time we are just tired of this sort of nitpicking and lack of focus.” The city, the President said, is very important since this is where a large part of the country’s population lives.

Jagdeo said that in the absence of local government elections, the government had at one point considered introducing a new body to manage the city but this unfortunately had not found favour with some. The President said the people will unfortunately have to bear with the Mayor and City Council for another year or bit more when local government elections will be held. “We’re a short way from local government elections which has to take place before the end of the year… if it doesn’t it will be in 2012 after the general elections. So I think the people of Georgetown, unfortunately will have to bear for another year, year and a half with the visionless council that we have.”

Recently Local Government Minister Kellawan Lall when asked if the government would prefer to spend millions on a health crisis, rather than try and help the City Council said: “Well, if there is a health crisis in the city I’ll be glad because it will remove the city council. They’ll be responsible for it.”   President Jagdeo did not mention Lall’s statement during his press conference.

Jagdeo said his government has poured billions of dollars into the management in the city. He pointed to assistance given by the administration in terms of building roads, clearing parapets, paying to collect garbage, digging canals, clearing the outfalls and putting in new pumps. He also pointed to government’s investment of more than US$10 million to construct the new waste management facility.

The President said that while he was pleased with some of the developments in the city, particularly more modern buildings, this has not been matched by the vision of City Hall. He said that City Hall needed to match efforts by the private sector to make the city into a modern one. According to Jagdeo, meetings at City Hall have been reduced to “squabbles” and apparently very little else.  The Head of State said that even if City Hall was able to do the basics like weed the parapets and to clear some of the garbage, the city would be in a better state.  However, he said, even these smalls tasks seemed beyond the body.

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