Aug 31, 2012 Letters Comments Off on We need statesmanship and sincerity on all sides
“The dismemberment of the Local Government system including the murder of the Capital City Georgetown – by the State is now crystal clear.”
Thanks to the micro management of the City by Government Ministers, financial strangulation, and the venality of some senior officers, who the Mayor and Councillors are not allowed to discipline or appoint, the citizens of our Capital must endure poor services in almost every area of the Municipality.
By way of example, it has for some time been the pattern for the Local Government Minister to engage the top officers without the knowledge of the Mayor and Council – but when officers falter, and do foul things, the State propaganda blame the Mayor et al.
This is the height of dishonesty and deceit. It is the State which exercises control over the City Managers. Additionally, for years the Mayor and City Council was denied the opportunity to expand its revenue base.
Editorials and commentaries have dealt with this on many occasions – recall the PPP Government’s refusal to allow Parking Meters; denial of Le Repentir dumpsite project to produce electricity (waste to energy); the Lotto deception; seizing of our Stabroek Market Car Park and ferry-landing facilities; refusal to expedite the revaluation of properties in the City (a legal requirement every five years) a loss of many millions annually; failure to establish a Municipal Court or to allow us to issue tickets to offenders.
The list is long. All proposals made over the years to help the Municipality were refused.
Along with other issues, it is now obvious that unless the PPP Government can exercise absolute control over an individual or an entity, their job is to frustrate.
It is simple, we see the innate PPP Stalin-like, communist philosophy of dictatorship at work – those communities and heads of local authorities that did not vote PPP must be axed, hence the slew of IMCs.
At all times, the Mayor and Councillors have sought to secure the cooperation of Central Government, convinced that any right-thinking government will ensure that the Capital is given appropriate support to secure its integrity and viability.
Sadly we see a short-sighted political agenda punish those who do not vote PPP or are not surrogates. This allows me to comment on the letter by the President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry – titled “Local Government Elections need to be held without undue delay” K.N August 29, 2012. Like every right-thinking Guyanese I agree totally.
The assumption is this – a vibrant, responsible Local Government system is a vital component of a true democracy. Some urge the need for shared governance. Local Government offers an excellent opportunity for genuine sharing for the common good.
If Mr. Urling and the Chamber are serious, they must come out openly and inveigh against the present strangulations of Local Authorities, and lean on the Parliament to hasten provisions for genuine Local Government Reform. Not an appeasement package or simple fiscal transfers, but serious legislation or reform. Many believe that the major hurdle for those who are unappreciative of the message from the electorate in November 2011 is the word reform.
Reform is not to simply amend certain provisions while retaining massive imperial-type control – the cheapest dictionary will tell us reform means “To change, to make better by removing abuses, to truly improve.”
The Chamber ought to be the main advocate for real reform. Stand up like men and say to the Government that the changes must be to allow a Local Authority the chance to exhale. Such a system will benefit both Industry and Commerce, since it will provide stimulation at the level where business can avoid the stress and tedium of an overbearing bureaucracy.
The Chamber must not fail their members and future generations. Today is the day they must be ready to deal with the real and fundamental issues. Speaking for myself, with others we are prepared to engage the Chamber openly, fearlessly.
For instance do not accept this clever crap about corruption, or incompetence – perhaps some folks are merely taking lessons from the top.
At an engagement with business leaders, they stated, and I agree, that not much can be achieved without Money, good Manpower and Government support.
As recent as Tuesday July 14, 2012, at the instance of the Mayor and City Council, a gathering of citizens, the media, the business community, religious bodies, youth, political and other representatives, was held at De Impeccable Conference Room, Brickdam. Sadly, no State or PPP official turned up. Nevertheless, ways to deal with the woes of the City were ventilated. One leading member of the business community cautioned that in Guyana’s environment, the project was not likely to succeed without government’s full involvement. With this in mind, the meeting agreed that we should write to the Head of State and the two Ministers of Local Government.
A letter signed by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Personnel & Training Committee Mr. Oscar E. Clarke was dispatched on July 17, 2012, to His Excellency the President. The final paragraphs are repeated here: “The gathering expressed a confidence that whatever fiscal adjustments may be necessary to Budget 2012, the Government can be assured of the full support of the Opposition in Parliament and citizens in general.”
It continued “Consequent to the above, this letter seeks your Excellency’s immediate intervention to host a meeting of the major stakeholders to chart a feasible course.”
It concluded with this plea: “Please treat as urgent since we can ill afford to repeat the follow of Nero fiddling while Rome was burning.”
To date we’ve had neither an acknowledgement nor a reply.
Interestingly, we are now involved in a clean-up exercise headed by Mr. Keith Burrowes. We welcome the clean-up, indeed every citizen will be happy as I will be to see the mountains of garbage removed from around the City – they are ugly, unhealthy and could do nothing to help Tourism being promoted by the Government.
But is this the appropriate way to go? I have the highest regard for Mr. Burrowes as a Guyanese, it is my belief his heart is in the right place, however what we see is yet another subtle P.R. exercise.
The old adage is relevant “don’t give a man some fish, but teach him to fish, and he’ll feed himself always”.
Mr. Burrowes’s performance as Presidential Advisor, of course in the present troubling political environment, can prevent a new picture of his involvement.
In the circumstances, allow the Mayor and Councillors to obtain workshop facilities and retain staff. All of this calls for money and imaginative, progressive managers. You ask a short-staffed under-equipped Constabulary to monitor this whole City, and when they take people to Court, much time is wasted – we did ask for a Municipal Court or the ticket system. Mobility and training, all cost money.
Allow the Mayor and Councillors to dispense justice and grant incentives. Citizens’ education all requires money and legislation. An overall plan is vital; a plan prepared 13 years ago is gathering dust – the Government has failed to trigger action on a plan which the Cabinet accepted.
Welcome as this Burrowes-led clean-up is, and I am ensuring maximum cooperation, we are looking at a band aid being placed on a festering sore.
We need changes to allow the Mayor and Councillors of the City to do what we are quite capable of doing, given the necessary tools.
Threats – statements about being glad if there is a health crisis in the City are not helpful; we need statesmanship and sincerity on all sides.
As always I stand ready to be a partner to our development. Our ancestors suffered enough for us to demand real partnership for national unity and development.
Hamilton Green, J.P
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