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.


Progressive developments in agriculture

After the recent stories about the modest success that has been realized in our attempt to begin to substitute the country’s potato and onion imports with higher levels of local production we are now being told by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (see story in this issue) that sufficient work has been done in terms of research into farming techniques and the varieties that are best suited to local conditions to give rise to the likelihood that locally cultivated  carrots, as well, a few years down the road, will save us further amounts of foreign exchange.

The 20% state contracts allocation for small businesses

This newspaper’s most recent updates on the provisions contained in the Small Business Act for the allocation of twenty per cent of state contracts to local small businesses provided by Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin and Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Bureau Dr.

The time may be right for public/private sector ‘summit’

In the space of a week, two of the country’s more Important Business Support Organizations (BSO’s) the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) held their Annual General Meetings, the forum at which, among other things, opportunity is provided, through the presentations of the respective Presidents, to get a sense of where the business community is headed and perhaps more importantly in our circumstances to learn more from the standpoint of the respective umbrella organizations about the challenges confronting them in the course of their private sector advocacy effort.

Economic diplomacy

What now appears to be an emerging trend towards a modest breakthrough for the local rice industry on the Cuban market is a sign, albeit a modest one, that some inroads are being made to attempt to compensate for what was once a considerable market in Venezuela.

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