The Government of Guyana (GoG) is committed to the restoration of City Hall and preservation of local democracy as chucks of monies have been earmarked for these activities this year. Making this disclosure was the Local Government and Regional Development Minister, Nigel Dharamlall during his presentation this morning to the Budget 2022 debates.
According to him, some $400M will be spent to restore City Hall and funds will be drawn from the $4.1B to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to host the overdue Local Government Election (LGE).
“We believe in democracy, we believe in people’s choices, we believe that in order for our people to continue to evolve; for development to come flowingly to our people, that we must have Local Government Elections. We are going to have Local Government Elections this year. We have budgeted billions of dollars for Local Government Elections, and we are going to have it this year,” he told the House.
Dharamlall reminded that it was President Irfaan Ali who disclosed last year that monies would be made available in the 2022 Budget for these activities.
Despite this promise, Dharamlall said that the government continues to face criticism from the main Parliamentary Opposition, the APNU+AFC, whose member, Ubraj Narine, is the mayor, and whose mismanagement has seen inappropriate expenditure further relegating the city into a state of disrepair.
“And they tell us we’re not putting money into the city…Actually, the last government gave the City $65M and they used $11M to buy a vehicle for (Mayor) Ubraj (Narine). They didn’t put it toward restoration, they ain’t put it towards cleaning Georgetown,” he told the House.
Meanwhile, Mayor Narine has been telling city residents that his council is being starved of resources because of the Finance Minister’s reluctance to order a revaluation of properties in the municipality.
The last valuation was done more than two and a half decades ago, and the rates and taxes being paid by residents and business owners are out of touch with reality, thereby debilitating city managers’ ability to provide adequate levels of service to the city population.
Hundreds of truckloads of garbage were shuttled out of city streets weeks ago in a mass cleanup exercise hosted by the government and the private sector.