“…the non-collection of rates and taxes must be seen as a conflict of interest on his part…”
The Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC) has found itself in more hot water.
This time, Government has threatened to withhold possible assistance unless the council collects over $100M owed to it by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).
In a strongly worded statement, yesterday, the Ministry of Local Government also pointed out that the fact that Mayor Hamilton Green is sitting on the PNCR Executive Committee and not collecting the rates and taxes is a glaring case of conflict of interest.
“It has become a matter of great concern to the Ministry of Local Government that the Georgetown City Council and Mayor Hamilton Green have shown no inclination to collect the rates and taxes owed to the city by the People’s National Congress Reform, PNCR,” the statement said yesterday.
“This injection of political consideration in the administration of the City Council, especially in the collection of rates and taxes is a significant contributory factor to the decline and decay of the City.”
According to the release, the records show that the city has not collected rates and taxes for the Sophia property, where the PNCR’s headquarters is located, for over a decade.
“The PNCR has several other properties in the City for which no rates and taxes have been collected for more than 15 years. The partial records available to the Ministry show outstanding amounts totaling some $100 million.”
According to the Ministry, the main opposition party has so far shown an unwillingness to meet its obligation in spite of the amnesty being granted on interest on debts owed to the Council.
“Now that Mayor Green has been embraced once again by the PNCR and now sits on the Executive Committee of that party, the non-collection of rates and taxes must be seen as a conflict of interest on his part.”
The Ministry pointed out that situation remains the case even though the M&CC is aware of the precarious situation with the finances of the City. “City treasury often without money to pay employees wages and salaries, contractors are owed huge sums and now the GPL is making demands for payments of hundreds of millions owed to it by City Hall.”
It is becoming quite clear that the Mayor’s strategy is to allow the situation to deteriorate in order to embarrass the government and hope that the government will bail it out as it has done so often, the statement argued.
“The Ministry of Local Government has repeatedly made representation to the Central Government for assistance to the City. Recently, the Ministry has had to lobby for the Ministry of Finance to pay rates and taxes in advance of the time they are due.
The Ministry has been successful in getting the Ministry of Finance to co-operate.”
However, the Ministry said it is unwilling now to assist the council and “wishes to let the public, especially the citizens of Georgetown, know that it is finding it more and more difficult to assist the City, given the glaring exhibition of political bias in the collection of rates and taxes.”
The Ministry said that it will not be involved in making any representation for assistance until the City collects rates and taxes owed by the PNCR.
Earlier last week, M&CC received a second letter from GPL demanding over $600M owed for electricity to the council and its facilities.
However, Mayor Green has responded by saying that GPL owes around $700M and the council was hoping to make a deal.
However, a meeting between M&CC and GPL on Friday failed to make any progress and Green has indicated he is about to write to the company and Prime Minister Sam Hinds on the matter.
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