The city does not need another clean-up campaign; there has to be sustainability

Dear Editor,

We have noticed an article in which statements are attributed to General Secretary of the PPP, Mr Clement Rohee:   ‘Alloca-tion for countrywide clean-up should be kept away from Mayor and City Council -Rohee.’ It is the most ludicrous and absurd statement that has emanated from that party within recent times about the city. The General Secretary is used as the conduit to elaborate on the erroneous position of the PPP as it relates to the Mayor and City Council. It is part of a wider plan to punish the citizens of Georgetown for not supporting this government. However, this goes against the principles of democracy, which the government claims it brought back to Guyana in 1992.

Referring specifically to the $500 million to clean up the city, I continue to hold the view that it is a clumsy political gimmick. Without any consultation with the people’s representatives – the elected councillors (not the Town Clerk or any other officer employed by the council) the government just went ahead and allocated the sum. On the face of it, nothing appears to be wrong with allocating $500 million to clean up the city. However, when one takes a closer look one will discover the following:-

First, to allocate money to the city without proper consultation really demonstrates disrespect for the people, who elected their representatives to manage at the local level. In the case of Georgetown 73% of the people did not vote for the PPP.  Moreover, this has ramifications for public cooperation with the campaign itself.  Citizens were not involved in the decision-making process, therefore, they are not obliged to participate in or cooperate with the campaign. The success of such a campaign depends heavily on the cooperation of residents.  In a genuine democracy that money would have been given to the city with the necessary checks and balances for proper accountability. However, in Guyana, monies allocated to the city by the PPP Govern-ment will be spent by the PPP Government, without any consultation with the elected councillors. How democratic.

Second, it appears as though no thought was given to sustainability. This ought to be a vital aspect of this campaign. Otherwise, $500 million of taxpayers’ money would be wasted in another one-off campaign to clean the streets of the capital.

The city does not need another clean-up campaign; it requires a comprehensive plan to restore the health of the city and to advance its interest. This is why I believe that discussions and consultations are necessary for the campaign to achieve its objectives. At the city council our challenge is not to clean the city but to keep it clean.  Therefore, the city needs more than clean up and ‘pick it up’ campaigns.

Mr Rohee stated that “… the reason for such a decision is because the Mayor Hamilton Green has established a track record for mismanaging the council and by extension its funds.” We hasten to point out that the Mayor and Councillors are policy-makers; they do not handle cash or sign off cheques; the council’s finances are managed and expended by the administration.  There-fore, his comments speak to his lack of knowledge of how the local government system works. If he checks the various reports of the council he would notice that it was the councillors who initiated all the inquiries into the mismanagement of council’s resources by the administration. Whenever the Auditor General was called in officers were relieved of their posts for mismanagement, Mr  Rohee must know that the councillors were never accused of misappropriation of council’s funds.

Again, the government talks about council mismanaging its affairs while it provides GPL and GuySuCo, with heavy subsides, even though there have been no reforms to the management of those corporations. Perhaps its treatment of the municipality is guided by the perception that the council is led by APNU.

While the General Secretary of the PPP pontificates and attempts to cast blame the public knows that the government has been starving the council of much needed resources and simultaneously preventing it from implementing revenue-earning projects. Citizens are aware that the government and its agencies have been fragrantly flouting the city building bylaws. Citizens know that the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development has imposed an unqualified individual on the council as Town Clerk.

Finally, the General Secretary’s statement that “The Mayor and his sidekick Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green can learn an invaluable lesson on how to manage and run an effective local democratic organ from other PPP/C administered municipalities as well as the wider Caribbean,” underscored the obsession of Mr Rohee and his government to micro-manage the City Council as they are doing in those NDCs where they have crudely replaced duly elected local bodies with hand-picked Interim Management Committees. But even those committees are experiencing great difficulties; some of them are worse off than when they were managed by the elected councillors.

In any case, those local communities are experiencing flooding, improper disposal and inadequate collection of their waste; untidy parapets and other very serious public health problems.  So the challenges we face in the city are not unique to Georgetown; they are countrywide.

As to his referring to me as the “sidekick” of the Mayor, I will leave it to the citizens of Georgetown to judge the manner in which this honourable gentleman addresses women.

Yours faithfully,

Patricia Chase-Green

Deputy Mayor of Georgetown

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