“We don’t know where the money has gone. I wrote the Minister seven letters asking what works were done, so the council can continue the works and do the maintenance. I never got a reply….” – Georgetown Mayor, Hamilton Green
Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Greene yesterday challenged Local Government and Regional Minister Norman Whittaker to show him how the $500M was spent to clean the capital city under the PPP administration.
Green was responding to Whittaker’s claims that efforts to clean the capital city under the PPP failed because the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) refused to co-operate with him.
Whittaker had also claimed that Green and other Council officials did not support the cleanup project initiated under the PPP, opting not to avail any of its 200 plus underutilized workers for the project.
But speaking to Kaieteur News yesterday, Mayor Green described Whittaker’s statements as an absurdity and called for evidence to be shown of the works executed in the initiative.
“When Whittaker or his (associates) speak, let them point out to anyone what works were executed and where is the evidence of that work,” Green said.
“It is patent that the former administration never wanted someone that was not a sycophant and someone (who would not) do things exactly as they wanted things done,”
He noted that one of the past administration’s biggest allocations to local government and regional development was the billion dollar ‘Clean up my country’ drive in 2014, half of which went to cleaning up Georgetown.
“We don’t know where the money has gone,” Green said. “I wrote the Minister seven letters asking what works were done, so the council can continue the works and do the maintenance. I never got a reply.”
“You can look at what has happened in a few months and you can imagine what Georgetown might have been like if I was allowed since 1994 to put things right. The evidence is clear. (Former President Bharrat) Jagdeo said we are obsessed with cleaning. That is what the city is all about.”
Green also recalled that it was former Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran, who had said he wished for a health crisis to strike Georgetown.
According to Green, this reflected the former administration’s thinking when it came to cleaning the city.
Whittaker had alleged recently in Kaieteur News that the years of stymied clean up initiatives were due to the non co-operation of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), because of political affiliations.
According to Whittaker, he had held one on one discussions with Mayor Green during his tenure but these discussions did not produce the results he had wanted.
“A lot of what was done was political,” Whittaker had said. “They did not support (this Minister from) the People’s Progressive Party. Look at the city cleanup. A lot of the containers (were acquired) under the PPP. The apathy was because of political influence.”
He had also spoken of the $1B ‘Clean up my country’ project, which was initiated in 2014 and has been the source of some contention. It was reported following an audit of the fund late last year that about a third of the $1B was spent on the acquisition of tools and equipment including tractors and trailers, mini excavators and skid steer loader.
According to the records kept at the Ministry, the tools were issued to various community groups to clean their environs and should have been returned at the completion of the exercise. When the audit office made its checks however, it was found that both used and new tools were stored in the same area with no means of distinguishing one from the other
Whittaker noted that the program itself was conducted largely by the technical personnel and on the basis of a committee composed of different Ministries including his and the Ministry of Agriculture. According to Whittaker, the committee came up with recommendations and his Permanent Secretary directed the show in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
Having said that, Whittaker had admitted that better work could have been done in the Georgetown leg of the cleanup program, towards which half of the ‘Clean up my country’ money went.
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