With your indulgence I wish to return to your editorial of November 3, 2013 titled `Great Garbage Game’ as well as the shocking revelations of Mayor Hamilton Green in his letter published in your paper yesterday. Your editorial contains grave misconceptions as it relates to powers of a Georgetown Town Clerk which I do believe need to be clarified lest the incumbent and her handlers be emboldened to continue with their mischief.
The editorial stated that the Town Clerk “is the accounting officer for the city”. This is not so. In the legislation governing the City Council –Cap 28:01- there is no such post. The Town Clerk is not even a member of the council (sec. 8) but rather a “local government officer” (sec. 74) and whose status, powers and duties are outlined in sec. 77. It -sec. 77.(1)- states as follows : “The clerk shall be the chief administrative officer of the council … and shall have the general responsibility of co-ordinating the whole of the work of the council”. Sub-clauses (2) and (3) establish clearly that the clerk is the servant of the council –“responsible for the matters specified in Part 1 of the Sixth Schedule, and such other duties as may be assigned to him by the council” and “subject to the general or specific directions of the council”. It needs to be recognized, therefore, that the clerk (Town Clerk) is an administrative and not executive officer; as said a servant and by no stretch of imagination, a master.
Further clarity is provided by referring to Part 1 of the Sixth Schedule which states, inter alia: “Subject to any general directions which the council may give …” (5), “shall have the duty of ensuring that the business of the council is carried out …” (6), … shall have conduct of negotiations on behalf of the council as the council may require”(9), and “ … shall have the responsibility for conveying decisions of the council to local government officers in the service of the council relating to their work and conduct”(10).
Your editorial, however, ascribes powers to a Town Clerk that is not in the legislation, to wit that the Town Clerk “is the one, not the M&CC, to whom the municipality`s heads of department and ultimately their staff too, are accountable”.
Regarding the issue of hiring of contractors for solid waste disposal or more particularly the unilateral action of the Town Clerk (ag) Ms Sooba to terminate the contracts of two such companies, this is a clear case of usurpation of authority. It would seem to me that the local gov`t officer empowered to have a role on the above is the City Treasurer. Part 2 of the aforementioned Sixth Schedule outlines the powers, duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer. Of the 25 listed clauses pertaining to same, I shall list 3, viz : 1. “He shall be the accountant, paymaster and collector and financial adviser of the council”, 15. “He shall manage, subject to the instructions of the finance committee and the council, all funds of the council”, and 20. “He shall carry out financial negotiations on behalf of the council and assist in other negotiations when financial aspects are involved”.
Editor, the Georgetown City Council or the M&CC is a local democratic organ invested with clear and specific authority under our constitution as well as the laws of Guyana.
The brazen insubordination being perpetrated by the Town Clerk (ag) defies comprehension and is scary. Make no mistake though, that she is but an instrument, albeit a blunt one, of the central gov`t on whose directions she is acting. Why the gov`t appears determined to promote anarchy is of grave concern not only to the opposition but ought to be to all citizens.
In the meantime all of us, including you and I, are forced to endure the chaos, disorder, stench, filth, etc that accompanies this breakdown in the rule of law. While the situation is unfair it will require many more of us standing up and saying to the gov`t that enough is enough.
on Local Government