Chairman Vickram Bharrat of the Diamond/Grove Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) is refuting claims that his council is underperforming.
His comment comes in light of a letter penned by Andre Fortune to Stabroek News, on October 13th, claiming that the NDC is not performing.
Bharrat in an interview yesterday with Stabroek News said the council has prioritized the work in order to fulfill their mandate to the community.
“This NDC to me has outgrown its status of an NDC. We have close to 40,000 people living in this NDC, and it is considered as the commercial hub of the East Bank, but yet some businesses are paying residential rates and we provide services,” he said, explaining the council’s position on providing efficient service which is limited by the poor tax collection from the residents.
He explained that the council has given garbage collection top priority in the communities, as well as the removal of vegetation from public properties and roadways. However, when Stabroek News visited the community during the course of last week, roadways were observed to be covered by vegetation. He also pointed out that in the Diamond community there are a number of unoccupied lands overgrown with weeds, and numerous efforts by the council to have the land owners clear the vegetation have proven futile.
According to Bharrat, the NDC has only collected 50% of its rates from residents to date. The NDC’s budget was based on a projected income of $90 million from the rates and taxes from the communities. He stressed that if residents paid their taxes, the NDC would be in a better position to function efficiently and deliver better services. Currently, the council’s expenses exceed $3 million per month, he said, explaining that a chunk of these expenses goes towards the hiring of a private company for garbage collection.
However, Bharrat indicated that the council had used the 2016 subvention from central government to secure a garbage truck for the NDC which he believes will reduce the expenses of the council in the future. Further he stressed, that while services are being provided to the residents of the Diamond Squatting Area, the NDC does not collect any revenue from them since the area is unregulated. As a result, he is calling on the Ministry of Communities, Department of Housing to regulate the community and allow the NDC to generate revenue from that area.
Bharrat added that the NDC is hoping to complete several projects before Christmas, including the de-silting of the Jimbo Canal which is main drainage canal for the NDC, establishing a weekend market at Diamond tarmac, and carrying out rehabilitative works on access roads. The chairman noted that there is no established market on the East Bank of Demerara, and as such, they are hoping to create one. He said the weekend market would allow one day for wholesale farmers and vendors, while the second day would cater to retail vendors.