Probe uncovers massive irregularities at City Hall
Though City Hall struggles to pay salaries and this is the case again this month. Councillors recently voted themselves an increase of 33 percent in allowances for this year and an eight percent increase for the other workers.
“On a regular basis only about 19 Councillors attend meetings. About 10 to 11 Councillors always absent. The Council is wholly dysfunctionally represented as it is by various factors and they spend a lot of time dealing with inconsequential items and in my opinion, waste a lot of time babbling sheer nonsense.”
This is according to Ramon Gaskin in a document prepared on his observations of City Hall and acquired by Kaieteur News. It is unclear where City Hall would get finances for the increases but the document highlights rampant corruption among the hierarchy of City Hall.
This same Council is fighting to have the three senior officers—Town Clerk Yonette Pluck, Treasurer Andrew Meredith and City Engineer Gregory Erskine— recently mired in fraud allegations, be sent on vacation leave to facilitate internal investigations.
However, the document disclosed that there is another member of the organization’s hierarchy that is misusing resources. Mayor Hamilton Greene was named as one of the individuals involved in fuel theft at City Hall.
According to Gaskin, on average, Green utilizes $89,140 per month while the three other officers, Pluck, Meredith and Erskine use $190,280 $70,310 and $180,900 per month respectively.
The document also stated that the Mayor’s residence is secured by nine ranks of the City Constabulary, which has 146 personnel. There are additional security guards.
It is a usual cry of the City Constabulary that the body has insufficient manpower to secure market places, Council’s buildings and the streets of Georgetown. With market places lacking security, consumers and vendors have been prey to criminals.
Gaskin also noted discrepancies in the sale of Greene’s last vehicle. However, he was not provided with the requested information on that sale. During Gaskin’s investigation in late May it was discovered that of the seven new trucks provided to the Council, only one was working. The remaining six were “down” for repairs but no one was attending to these trucks.
In addition, Lugger Bobcats Excavator and other equipment were also said to be down for repairs. “It was observed that several items of equipment were being cannibalized. There clearly is need for a general overhaul at this location,” he said.
The Workshop Manager responsible for these repairs is in receipt of $500,000 Petty Cash float. Gaskin was not provided with information on this spending even though a request was made.
Apparently, a scrap metal business called “Good Crop” Scrap Metal is operating out of the premises at Princes Street. “It is difficult to assess how much Mayor and City Council (M&CC) scrap metal located at Princes Street finds its way into the large 40-foot containers, which are loaded up with scrap,” Gaskin stated.
Currently, the Auditor General’s office is investigating the sale of the Council’s old incinerator (Old Smokey) located at Princes Street. Council is awaiting the findings of that investigation.
Another discrepancy, the document revealed, was the payment of $2.8M to Ms. Vonetta McDonald for 75 percent of “work” done. Meredith was instructed by Erskine to make that payment.
The document stated that the “letterhead” for the invoice had no address and no phone number, and is in the name of MTN General Contracting and Transportation Services.
Gaskin said, “There is no such entity in the phone book, nor is there a Vonetta McDonald. There is extremely “funny” business that truly warrants the intervention of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Guyana Police Force, as with the theft of fuel.”
He said there is no Assets Register showing the assets of the M&CC with values attached except for buildings such as Stabroek Market.