Broke city again unable to pay salaries – Treasurer

Mayor and City Council (M&CC) Treasurer Andrew Meredith yesterday said that the city would be unable to pay its workers this month.

“My predictions are that we cannot pay salaries as of today,” he said at the city council’s statutory meeting yesterday.

“The position is that we don’t have any money,” Town Clerk Yonette Pluck-Cort said during the meeting, when she was asked to address the city’s financial position. Pluck-Cort stated that a proposal had been placed before the financial committee to reduce wages. “The financial meeting will be focused on how we will increase collection of revenue and reduce our expenditure,” she continued. This meeting, Pluck-Cort said, will be hosted on Wednesday in the Mayor’s office.

Meredith stated yesterday that a total of $75 million had been collected in taxes for the month of June. He further stated that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) has not been paid workers’ contributions since August 2010. “We haven’t paid NIS since last year! This bothers me. I can’t sleep,” he said. “We haven’t paid a cent to NIS and PAYE, which amounts to $90 million,” he added.

Meredith explained that the last prepared report, with regard to liabilities, had by the end of April, $980 million. He also stated that garbage contractors have not been paid since the month of March and debt to them had accumulated to a total of $68 million. This figure, he said, is the most significant apart from the debt to the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL), which by the end of July will be $780 million—with some $600 million for street lighting.

Meanwhile, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company is owed around $900,000 for the month of June, which is payable by Friday. However, when addressing debt relating to the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), the treasurer stated that the $20 million owed to the company is almost equivalent to how much GWI owes the council. “It is actually much lower than what they owe us,” he said.

This, he explained, is a result of not being able to collect taxes from GWI because they have not been able to get evaluations done. He stated that this is the outcome of what he described as an “obstruction”. When asked by Mayor Hamilton Green what the “obstruction” was, the treasurer failed to deliver an answer.

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