Burrowes peeved at non-implementation of recommendations for City Hall
Failure to implement the recommendations of the Municipal Implementation Committee has allowed for continued financial irregularities at City Hall, and Chairman of the Committee and recently appointed Presidential Adviser on Financial Matters, Keith Burrowes, has expressed his displeasure in this regard.
“It is high time for us to become frustrated. I am frustrated because we did this comprehensive review and nobody has told me that the review and the recommendations were not suitable, so I assumed that everything was okay.”
Burrowes’ sentiments were amplified on Tuesday when he met with several municipal officers and their union representatives at the Sleep Inn International Hotel, Brickdam.
He said that he learnt that none of the recommendations were implemented following a perusal of the municipal system by Ramon Gaskin upon his (Burrowes’) request.
Not only were none of the recommendations implemented, but Gaskin was also able to uncover matters that have since necessitated the involvement of the Police Force, Burrowes emphasised.
“We saw what we consider deliberate efforts to keep municipal trucks off the road.”
He mentioned cases where invoices bearing no letterheads, addresses, telephone numbers or email addresses were discovered at the municipality. One such invoice amounted to almost $3M.
Attempts to verify that existing entities were associated with such invoices proved futile, as according to the Presidential Adviser, even the Supreme Court Registry, which is tasked with granting licences to businesses, could not substantiate their existence.
Having examined such an invoice, Burrowes said that he was immediately prompted to commence calculating how many lower level municipal workers could have been paid with that sum.
The municipality has adopted a protracted record of failing to pay its workers in a timely manner, a development that has on several occasions forced industrial action. Strike action was in fact engaged on Friday, last, for this very reason, among others.
“I have always argued that with its limited resources the municipality should be paying in a bottom-up instead of a top–down (manner) and the main reason for that is that those at the bottom are the ones that are struggling a bit more,” Burrowes said.
In addition, he related that once the bottom – top approach is used, more workers can be paid, even as he speculated that some senior officers’ salaries could facilitate the payment of at least 10 lower level workers.
“That is not being done and I even understand that the councillors are being paid before staff. I don’t know how true it is, but I will have to check that out.”
In voicing his concerns about the non-implementation of imperative recommendations for the municipality, Burrowes stressed “it is only prudent on the Council’s part to support the recommendations…after putting all these hours of work…they did not.”
According to him, several persons were even brought on board and were willing to volunteer their services to the different municipal units to help implement the recommendations. He however noted that most of the volunteers have since become frustrated.
Among the departments that are in dire need of addressing, Burrowes was most emphatic about developments in the Accounts Unit.
“I have been saying over and over, you guys need to clean up your balance sheet. It has some figures in there that don’t tie-back with nothing. I have never seen something like this before!”
In light of this, he said that a new database was designed for the municipality, in hope of having only new transactions undertaken. This move, according to him, would see the onus now being on the public to ascertain whether figures are correct or not.
“The burden of proof will be on the business people and the residents. If that had started a number of things would have happened, among them, we would have gotten a good sense as to who is paying and who is not.” Burrowes asserted.