The journey of micro-management and shades of imperial dictatorship by PPP Ministers continue unabated, Town Clerk (ag), Ms Carol Ryan Sooba being their main instrument.
At the statutory meeting of Monday 14, we learnt for the first time that the government had handed over half of the subvention intended to increase our fleet of vehicles.
An accepted procedure requires that the City Treasurer, the Town Clerk and the Mayor sign the formal request for transmission to the Ministry of Local Government to allow the release of the appropriate funds. When the requisition came to the Mayor, in writing, he expressed a concern that the proposed purchase arrangement was not satisfactory. We were committing another act of folly by buying used second-hand trucks not re-conditioned ones. Second, there was no evidence of a proper procurement procedure.
Earlier, in discussions, some of our mechanics who operate in difficult circumstances such as inadequate tools, no retraining programme expressed the view that the acquisition of new equipment is the better option. A visit to our workshop will show the horrors as a result of the policy of buying second-hand equipment.
There was no response to my query, but we learnt that the Minister, according to the Town Clerk (ag), signed the requisition in place of a Mayor, that will allow for the purchase of these trucks from the government subvention. If we are to believe the acting Town Clerk’s statement that the Minister signed in place of the Mayor, citizens must be the judge of this type of intrusion.
It is not for me to suggest any form of collaboration in the haste to purchase certain equipment, which breaks down after a few weeks. This attitude of the Minister has now become the pattern and brings into sharp focus the dishonesty and hypocrisy in the statement made by Minister Ganga Persaud, when he points his finger at the Mayor and City Council for the sad and sorry state of the Kitty Market and City Hall itself.
Where City Hall is concerned, we have made every effort, including bringing to this country at no cost to the government or the municipality, two experts to examine the building. They made recommendations, some of which the acting Town Clerk has so far failed to implement.
When earlier the Mayor expressed disquiet about the way the $20M subvention from the government was being spent, the Mayor’s pleadings were ignored by the Minister.
It is known that the Mayor and Councillors have had their traditional authority eroded, if not emasculated by the Ministers of Local Government, and thus have no power to discipline errant officers. This may explain why one of the four local government Bills passed unanimously in Parliament on August 7, we now hear is a source of concern to Ministers Ganga Persaud and Norman Whittaker, since it requires the establishment of a Local Government Commission.
The Commission will have the power to appoint and discipline senior officers. It should be obvious that, even though this Bill was passed unanimously in the National Assembly, the Ministers are unwilling to be relieved of this burden, or is it they do not want to lose the power now in their hands to manipulate the municipality by a puppet-like control of the municipalities.
On the Kitty Market issue, apart from the pre-election promise by former President Jagdeo to the stallholders, we have had several meetings and the acting Town Clerk was required to advertise for potential developers to find a way forward in order to rehabilitate or reconstruct the edifice.
Further, Mr Ganga Persaud should know that at the instance of the stallholders, a letter was sent to the President seeking his cooperation. To date there has been no reply.
It is time the Local Government Ministers put an end to this charade and engaged the Mayor and City Council in meaningful dialogue to relieve citizens of the stress, discomfort, health hazards and embarrassment they now experience.
Hamilton Green, JP