Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan has managed to secure funding from the Ministry of Communities specifically to pay garbage collectors contracted by the Mayor and City Council monies.
Duncan along with the City’s Solid Waste Director Walter Narine over the weekend met Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan and discussed the city’s financial crisis, which has been preventing the city from making payments to the contractors. “I had to take the initiative and meet with the minister because the collectors had threatened to go on strike last Sunday…,” Duncan said.
Duncan revealed during yesterday’s statutory meeting that after discussions, it was agreed that the sum of $176 million would be given to the council to pay Cevons Waste Management and Puran Brothers Disposal Inc. The money is being granted with the understanding that it would only be used to pay the contractors a chunk of what is owed to them and not for any other project being undertaken by the city.
“We would be signing a memorandum of understanding to specify that the [funds] would be used to pay the garbage collectors,” Duncan announced.
According to Duncan, who is currently acting as Mayor, the Ministry “had $200 million in funds separated for us for a long time but they were reluctant to give us for a number of reasons.”
He explained that of the $200 million, $24 million were given to the council as part of its subvention in June 2016 from the amount.
Duncan, on behalf of the council, expressed gratitude to the Minister for his consideration in granting the sum to be paid to the firms and to Narine for his valuable input in arguing for the money to be released.
He said Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Harry and City Treasurer Ron Mc Calmon are currently engaged in talks with officials from the ministry “working out the modalities of us receiving it.”
To date, the two companies are owed in excess of $365 million for services provided to the city. Last Thursday Stabroek News reported that Puran Brothers and Cevons Waste Management were paid a small amount of approximately $10 million each.
And even with the $176 million, City Hall would still owe the companies significant sums.
Meanwhile, when councillors enquired yesterday about the position with the request for the $600 million bailout from the Ministry of Communities, Harry said no official correspondence had been received regarding whether the money would be given or not.
However, Bulkan had told this newspaper that he was not prepared to take the city’s request to cabinet until he was presented with a clear and comprehensive account of its present financial situation and future plans. “Before I can make any representation on their behalf I need to engage the mayor for more information. The letter did not provide enough information to justify an intervention,” Bulkan had said.