The Mayor and City Council’s “intensified” two-year-campaign to “sustainably restore and develop” the city is what has resulted in the delay of payments to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the public service credit union, according to City Hall.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Council explained that these projects, which included upgrades to green spaces and the development of recreational facilities, were conducted on a limited budget.
Nevertheless, it added that a plan has reportedly been worked out between the Council and NIS for the payment of the amounts owed, but meetings are still to be held with GRA and the Guyana Public Service Credit Union to discuss the way forward on those matters.
Yesterday, during a press briefing, city Treasurer Ron McCalmon related that the Council owed the credit union $36 million and the NIS $134 million ($116 million before interest).
“So the agreement that we would have met with is that we keep the current payment up to date as well as make those arrears payments so that it could be liquidated. The agreement is that on last Friday we would have paid $10,399,000 over to NIS, which is the current payment, and we’re in the process of preparing payments that is between 5- $7 million every month so that that outstanding amount can be liquidated,” McCalmon stated.
He further related that payments have commenced to the Credit Union, with $11 million being paid over already. McCalmon said that the Council will be meeting with the Credit Union on the next step for liquidating the arrears, and will be having meetings with the GRA and other agencies for which they have money outstanding so the amounts can be settled.
Asked how the Council intends to meet its new payment commitments given that it is already cash-strapped, McCalmon said there would be need for prioritising of payments, and an intensification of the drive for rates and tax collection.
“…The Council needs every cent of monies owed to it to get on with providing services to local neighbourhoods. These include: street lighting, drainage, roads, Environmental and Public Health services, cemeteries and a host of other services,” the statement read.
City Hall also committed to “do its best in the circumstances to keep workers welfare as its highest priority”, and “to ensure that they are properly rewarded for the work they have been doing”, reminding that workers have received an 8% increase across the board, in addition to a 7% increase in 2016 and 2017 along with payment of retroactive fees for those same years.