People’s Progressive Party/Civic-elected councils in the local authority areas will not support any increase in rates and taxes and every three months they will make known their financial status to citizens, says Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo.
He said PPP/C-elected councils will also widely consult in developing work programmes so that resources are used in the interest of the people and the focus of councils will be on providing services.
“We are not over-promising at the local level,” Jagdeo said, because of inadequate resources to deliver.
Speaking at his weekly press conference held at his Queenstown office yesterday, Jagdeo urged people to cast their votes noting that the right to vote was something that was fought for.
“Now that we have this right, we must come out and exercise it,” he said.
Asked about being more in the media limelight than other party leaders in the Local Government Elec-tions, Jagdeo said, “The thing is that our party leaders are across the country.”
Each member of the central committee of the party, he said, has an area of responsibility and they are on the ground holding meetings.
“This is my regular press conference. I have no problem going out to bat for any candidate. I am not on the ballot but I am going to expose this government and tell (people) why they should not vote for the APNU candidates.”
APNU candidates simply take instructions from the centre, he said, claiming that the New Amsterdam Town Council and the Lancaster-Hogstye Neighbourhood Democratic Council in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) increased rates and taxes on instructions but PPP/C led councils in the region did not do the same.
It was clear, he said, that Government plans to force local government bodies to increase rates and taxes across Guyana by contracting a Canadian firm and paying them in excess of $300 million to do a countrywide exercise on rates and taxes.
APNU and the AFC are saying nothing about no new tax increases at the local level in their campaign, he said.
“The PPP has made it clear that we will not support any increase at the local level because these communities are already overburdened with taxation at the national level. This is a real issue,” he said.
In 2016, of the 19 local authority areas in the region that contested the LGEs then, the PPP/C won 15 of the 19 and tied two others. APNU won two – New Amsterdam and Lancaster/Hogstye.
“I am told that in these two areas that they won, the rates and taxes increased by 100 per cent. Contrast that (with those) which were won by the PPP. They had a zero increase in rates and taxes because we campaigned on that as a matter of policy, which we are doing again,” he said.
The PPP/C believes that the issues of rates and taxes and accountability must be part of the discussions on LGEs, he said.
Accountability in the council should be of primary consideration to people, he said, and the inquiry into the operation of the Georgetown municipality reveals “enormous amount of corruption” that has taken place there.
“At the national level many of them knew what was taking place yet never stopped it. What is going to change if they take back control of the city? What is going to change? Nothing.”
Over the last three years, he said, the council under the leadership of Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had no audited accounts.
“And frankly speaking the old characters are running again – Chase-Green and others, and she will most likely be the mayor again if they win in Georgetown and they will continue along the same path they have started. This is a big concern for us.”