The Neighbourhood Democratic Council in Caledonia/Good Success, east bank Demerara has been ordered to repay to residents rates and taxes that were illegally increased in 2008.
This recommendation was made by an investigating committee and was endorsed by Genevieve Allen, Regional Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Region Four.
The rates that were implemented varied from five to 25 percent for Residential, Commercial and Agricultural lands/lots and commenced on January 1, 2008.
The investigation also revealed that Guyana Soft Touch of Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara and Falls Service Station located at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara had their rates reduced from $306,702 to $118, 250 and $1,664,589 to $819,831 respectively.
Homeowners within the district made several complaints to the NDC but their voices were not heard, since the NDC continued to collect the increased rates.
According to Ramnarine Singh, Acting Regional Executive Officer (AREO), in 2008, the Chairman of the Caledonia/Good Success NDC had instructed the staff to make the adjustments in the assessment register without supporting documents. The AREO said the Overseer also told him that the adjustments did not pass through the council’s monthly statutory meeting.
The Chairman said that when the register was examined, numerous changes in the amount of rates and valuation among other thing were observed. He added that the information was not properly documented and the accounts were not balanced.
The AREO told those at the Regional Accounting Committee (RAC) meeting, held last Tuesday, that the Chairman’s actions were illegal and contradicted the standing operating procedures of the council as he had not sought permission and/or advice from council before taking action.
He added that there were a lot of whiteout, scratches and change of names to hide information.
In outlining the recommendations that were identified from the investigation, the AREO said that the Office of the Auditor General should be immediately informed so as to conduct an in-depth audit of the council’s records. He said that the rates being collected are illegal and as such, the Region needs to ensure that this is corrected.
Dwarka Nauth, Chairman of the NDC admitted that there are issues within his NDC as it relates to the rates and taxes and told those at the meeting that the issues are being addressed.
Nauth disputed allegations that he and some of his councillors have personally benefitted from the increase of rates and taxes. He said that the former Local Government Minister, Kellowan Lall, had granted consent for the raise.
However, records showed that the minister has put the increase of rates and taxes on hold.
Allen said that the findings will be handed over to the Auditor General’s office noting that they would take the necessary actions regarding the matter.
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