Financial mismanagement is at the top of the agenda of the Commission of Inquiry, (COI) into the operation of City Hall.
Chairman of the Local Government Commission, (LGC), Mortimer Mingo, confirmed yesterday that the decision was taken to launch the COI after a series of complaints about the financial matters at City Hall.
According to Mingo, the Commission had been receiving complaints of corruption at City Hall for several months.
He noted that there are complaints against the Town Clerk for mismanagement of funds, and abuse of his authority.
“The law mandates that we take serious action against allegations of corruption.
“There are complaints about contracts being awarded to friends and family, that procurement rules being bypassed, failure to remit to the Credit Union contributions deducted from workers’ salaries in keeping with financial regulations and so on,” Mingo told Kaieteur News.
The LGC had announced that the decision to launch a COI into administration of city was taken earlier this year.
In a letter to Council, the LGC explained that the decision to investigate City Hall was taken following “multiple complaints and adverse reports received by workers of the municipality and a number of agencies.”
The LGC noted that the decision was also taken to have Town Clerk, Royston King, proceed on leave from September 21, 2018 to facilitate the investigation.
At the interim, the LGC said that Deputy Town Clerk, Sharon Harry Munroe, will perform the duties of Town Clerk.
Retired Justice Cecil Kennard who will conduct the inquiry into the administration and operations of the M&CC will be sworn in today.
During an extraordinary statutory meeting of City Hall yesterday, Councillors of the Georgetown M&CC were officially notified of the COI, which is slated to commence on September 24, 2018.
Both the Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King declined to comment on the impending investigations.
The COI Inquiry will be held in keeping with the Local Government Commission Act, the Municipal and District Councils Act and Guyana’s Constitution. The COI comes months after a motion of no-confidence was brought against King by members of the City Council.
The motion was filed by Alliance for Change, (AFC) Councillor, Sherod Duncan, and seconded by then Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran.
Among other things, the Town Clerk is accused of dereliction of duty, awarding contracts without following the procurement rules, approving the highly controversial parking meter contract with overseas-based Smart City Solution, (SCS), and leasing the Bel Air Park and the Farnum playgrounds without the approval of the Council.
The concerns were copied and forwarded to the LGC. The eight members LGC, which came on stream last year, are mandated to oversee, monitor, investigate and examine the actions of the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and the municipalities.
Jaikarran said that they are expecting a judgment by the LGC as it regards King.
“We need a better outcome; the matter was swept under the carpet at City Hall. But we are expecting that it will be treated better at the level of the Commission—given due deliberation before a decision is taken.”
The Local Government Commission, in a notice explained that hearings into the operations of the municipality will begin on September 24, 2018 at Critchlow Labour College, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.
The Terms of Reference of the Commission include a mandate to investigate the administration and operations of the City of Georgetown; the reason for and the process by which a motion of no confidence on the Town Clerk was dealt with by the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown; and generally, to investigate any matter that may be brought to the attention of the Commissioner during the Inquiry that would adversely affect the administration and operation of the Municipality.
The LGC, in keeping with the Local Government Commission Act 2013 (delegation of powers), has the authority to execute disciplinary actions to the Council and all other Local Government Organs.
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