City Hall’s helplessness in another potentially emerging crisis

The breathing space afforded City Hall in the wake of central government’s intervention to liquidate the City’s indebtedness to Cevons Waste Management and Puran Brothers and to foot the bill for services up to the end of December last year, is over. We are back to the proverbial square one where there is no extant contractual arrangement for garbage disposal and even if there was one City Hall has no resources with which to liquidate whatever debts it incurs, going forward. We understand, too, that the short-term help which the City had pressed into service earlier this year may no longer be available since they too are now owed outstanding amounts by City Hall.

What City Hall should have done late last year was to utilise the last five weeks of 2017, during which time the burden of meeting the City’s garbage collection bill had been removed from its back, to do what it could to try to reach some sort of modus vivendi with its two key contractors by last year end. Instead it dithered. Town Clerk Royston King waited literally until the last day of 2017 to write to the two contractors calling them to a meeting to discuss a resumption of their respective garbage disposal services.

To say that Mr. King’s letter reached the giddy heights of the ridiculous is to indulge in considerable understatement. Setting aside the fact that to wait until the day of the expiration of the arrangement with government to write to the two contractors requiring them to engage the Council was an act of unfathomable disrespect, City Hall also appeared to overlook completely the fact that it had earlier notified the two companies that their services had been terminated. In effect, there was no basis that allowed for City Hall to demand anything of either Cevon’s Waste Management or Puran Brothers.

On Wednesday last, Cevons Waste Management made it clear (and what it said appeared to have the blessing of Puran Brothers) in a media release that it was not prepared to engage with City Hall in circumstances  where the letter of termination still stood. In fact, Cevon’s Chief Executive Officer Morse Archer told this newspaper over the phone that while he believed that the parties should put the interest of the City first he was altogether unprepared to have his company return to the quagmire in which it had found itself prior to central government’s intervention. It is difficult to disagree with Cevons’ position.

Assuming that the conditions become convivial for a discourse between the two private contractors and City Hall, however, there is still another huge mountain to climb. Between the end of November when government agreed to meet the City’s liabilities to the contractors, including bills for garbage collection up to the end of December 2017, there emerged absolutely no indication that City Hall had placed itself in a position to foot the bill for urban garbage collection. In the circumstances one might well ask whether the real issue here is not the thorough helplessness of City Hall in terms of its ability to strike a realistic garbage disposal deal with its contractors and if so, aren’t we, whatever the outcome of any engagement between the parties, aren’t we batting on a sticky wicket anyway.

The reality is that for all its bluster the Georgetown municipality has demonstrated a patent inability to generate sufficient funds to meet its routine obligations. It is no secret that but for the aggressive lobby mounted by Cevons Waste Management, in particular, the two companies would still have been considerably out of pocket.

Contextually, one may well ask whether, in the circumstances, there is any real point to discourse between City Hall and the contractors in circumstances where it is almost certain that City Hall will be unable to offer any reasonable assurances with regard to uninterrupted garbage collection.


The Small Business Bureau…going forward

The materialization of a report that allows some insights into the performance of the much vaunted Small Business Bureau in terms of its role in kick-starting a transformation in the small business sector finally allows us the opportunity to evaluate what it has accomplished so far, what some of its failings are and what sorts of adjustments/corrective measures it might take.

Implementing 20% of state contracts to small businesses

It is widely believed that if smoothly implemented and scrupulously monitored the actualization of the provision in the Small Business Act of 2004 for a 20% allocation of government’s “goods and services” contracts to small businesses could make a major, positive difference to the country.

Strengthening Guyana/Brazil economic relations

It would be entirely fair to say that successive political administrations in Guyana have, over time, continually squandered what, unquestionably, have been glaring opportunities to take advantage of the fact that Brazil, by far this continent’s largest country with the biggest economy, shares a border with us.

Influence peddlers ‘touting’ for would-be investors

During an extended discourse with the Stabroek Business on Wednesday, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin went to some trouble to make the point that the APNU+AFC administration was particularly keen to provide a convivial environment within which to attract investor attention and (in the presence of Go-Invest Chief Executive Officer, Owen Verwey) made the point that one of his Ministry’s priorities was to properly position and equip Go-Invest to provide the various services associated with investor inquiries.

Scaling down the sugar industry

The pragmatism associated with the decision to significantly scale down the size of a sugar industry which has become a significant financial strain on the rest of the economy and on the country as a whole cannot gainsay the hardships at individual, family and community levels that will accrue from the alarming levels of job losses, some of which have already been announced.

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