City Hall has budgeted over $20 million for the celebration of City Week, to mark the birth of Georgetown, but councillors have expressed concern at the sum, stating that the funds can be put to other use.
All councillors at Monday’s statutory meeting seemed to be in support of the activity but suggested that perhaps the event can be scaled down.
Team Legacy Councillor Carolyn Caesar, who brought up the matter, opined that the money could be spent elsewhere, naming the National Insurance Scheme—with which City Hall is in arrears for employee contributions—as one area where the money can be diverted. PPP/C Councillor Khame Sharma cautioned that while the activity is very important, the council has to be “considerate” in its spending, given its history with contractors.
But APNU+AFC Councillor Monica Thomas pointed out that the $20 million was just a “ballpark figure” suggested by the Social Development Committee and noted that the actual sum could fall below that. She stated also that the event is intended to function as a fundraiser.
It was noted by Councillor Akeem Peter that the decision was based on the assumption that the event would cost that much, not necessarily that council would be spending that much on the activities, as private donations could also offset the costs. Mayor Patricia Chase-Green asked that a structured programme be presented to the council for assessment moving forward.
“…If you don’t want this big celebration, at least we must recognise the day the city was, we would say ‘born,’ and that day, at least you must have an activity for that day. If $20 million is too exorbitant, whether it’s to have a reduced something, even if it’s a church service and a display at the constabulary—whatever it is—but we must.
You have Berbice Town Week, you have Linden Town Week, you have Bartica Town Week—we are a city, we don’t celebrate our birthday. And I think that is what is being reintroduced. And if it cannot be reintroduced at that level, we can start gradually,” Chase-Green stated.
“…I am quite certain that this council would not be so irresponsible to spend $20 million when we do not have it,” the Mayor stated, while noting that the activities can be scaled down.
She noted that City Week has been celebrated in the past, with shows featuring local artistes, and exhibitions, among other activities.