New city mayor promises transparency, integrity of council

Mayor Ubraj Narine responding to questions from members of the media.

New Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine says he will strive to deliver on transparency, accountability and integrity of the city council during his tenure.

“Accountability and integrity of council, transparency, those are my theme words and what I want to achieve as mayor of this city in my first year,” Narine declared on Friday, when asked by this newspaper about his goals for his term.

Narine met with members of the media in his chambers during a meet and greet interaction on Friday, during which he fielded questions.

While the new mayor did not justify the rationale behind his “theme words,” over the years, there have been reports of a lack of transparency and accountability at the level of the council. Reports have emerged of works being awarded to contractors without public tendering and funds from the council’s coffers being mismanaged. When asked how he intends to handle issues such as the disruptions in garbage collection, the inadequate rate collection, the introduction of parking meters and the need for infrastructural upgrades to the city, Narine said he was not in a position to answer questions about those areas. He noted that those issues will be dealt with by the full council at its first statutory meeting today. He also stated that he needs to be more informed on such topics before pronouncing on them.

Though he could not say what will be the priority issues for the new council, he called on citizens of Georgetown to cooperate and work with the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) for the good and betterment of the city.

“There are many rumours of City Hall out there but being out there and being a part of City Hall are two different things [and] being a part of City Hall now as a politician and a young man and [from] visiting the departments of council, I feel the citizens need to do more in terms of cooperating with the council,” he noted.

“… We need to work together, not to build walls, but to build bridges. And if we have that kind of cohesion among us, Georgetown can be a better place,” he said, while emphasizing that despite his political ties [he is member of the PNCR], he is the mayor of the city and is prepared to work with every citizen.

In the same breath, Narine called on citizens to honour their obligations to the council by paying their rates, while noting that citizens who have large outstanding balances can visit the council to discuss payment. “We need citizens to come in and let us have discussions [and decide whether] we can waive taxes or draft payment plans. We [need] to have better communication and understanding for a better Georgetown,” he stressed, while pointing out that the council needs money to execute its vision.

“There is a lot–a vision. But you cannot execute it without money. It is not something that will happen by magic… Only the finance committee has been elected and they are in the process of preparing the 2019 budget… I will have to vet that budget and full council will have to look at the budget and then we will move forward…” he disclosed, when asked about projects for 2019.

Since taking up office as mayor, Narine said he has been visiting and evaluating the performance of the different offices attached to City Hall.

No questions on the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into City Hall’s affairs were entertained.

Deputy Mayor Alfred Mentore, along with senior council officers, acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe, Chief City Engineer Colvern Venture, and other officers were also present at the media interaction.

Notably present as well was PNCR party member James Bond. Bond has no ties to the council.

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