City Hall spending under investigation

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With only two months remaining before the next Local Government Elections, a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) is being held into the spending of the City Council.

The Local Government Commission in a public notice in the local newspapers on Sunday called for the submission of statements to the CoI which is being held in accordance with the Local Government Commission Act and the Municipal and District Councils Act.

According to the notice, public hearings will begin on September 24, 2018, at the Critchlow Labour College, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.

Local Government Elections (LGE) is set for November 12.

The City Council has come under many criticisms following the initial launch of the controversial Parking Meter project.

Reports are that the CoI was sparked by complaints from business persons and other citizens.

There have also been several calls for the removal of Town Clerk Royston King, who according to reports, will be sent on leave to facilitate the investigation.

AFC Councillor Sherod Duncan had tabled a no-confidence motion in February calling the removal of the Town Clerk. The motion, seconded by his AFC Colleague Lionel Jaikaran was filed on the grounds that several decisions were made by King without the Council’s approval and in most cases forced the intervention of Central Government.

The motion alluded to several issues which have been raised in sections of the media prior including the removal of the vendors from the Stabroek Market and Robb Street environs in 2016/2017, the “lease” of numerous billboards and spaces said billboards occupied, the lease of playgrounds, the signing of the infamous parking meter contract and the implementation of a container fee, all without the Council’s approval.

The ninth “Whereas” clause in the motion pointed to the Council’s failure to properly account for $300M given by Central Government for the Georgetown Restoration Programme as outlined in the Auditor General’s report of 2016/2017.

Other issues raised included the failure of the Town Clerk to provide information requested by Councillors, the “wanton abuse” of the “Emergency Clause” under the law governing the entity to abandon the tendering process and spend millions of dollars.

However, the Mayor, Patricia Chase Green rendered the motion inadmissible.

In March, the Council approved spending of $58 million to buy furniture and equipment for the office of  Town Clerk along with an additional $8M to purchase vehicles and machinery for the same office. An additional, $4M for overseas trips and $550,000 for local travel were approved.

Mayor Chase-Green was contacted but refused to offer a comment on the issue.

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