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As Mayor of the City of Georgetown, I wish to reject the Headline “City Hall needs innovative ways to recover debt and should stop embarrassing business owners, says Min. Dharamlall” on December 1, 2020 published by Guyana Chronicle.
Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall is a misfit, who arrogates authority unto himself, mistreats Guyanese who rejects his undemocratic style of leadership and lacks integrity to call out the Mayor.
I wish to inform the citizens of Guyana that I took office in January 2019, subsequent to the No Confidence Motion that was carried in December 2018. There was no parliament and no budget under the Coalition Government during that time, hence, my negotiations with the then APNU/AFC Coalition Government could not be realized. I also wish to express that Roy Beepat owes taxes to the Mayor and City Council since Giftland Mall was in the process of being constructed. Taxes owed to City Hall by business owners predate 2015 when the Coalition APNU/AFC was elected into office. This matter was even ventilated at the recent Commission of Inquiry held under Justice retired Cecil Kennard, incidentally at the request of the said Roy Beepat.
I urge Minister Dharamlall to understand his portfolio before he addresses matters publicly. He complains that Central Government is taking care of the Haags Bosch landfill site. Minister Dharamlall must know that central government has a responsibility to maintain the Haags Bosch Landfill Site. Solid waste is taken from all the Neighborhood Democratic Councils on the East Bank of Demerara and several other jurisdictions to the Haags Bosch Landfill Site that are out of the Mayor and City Council’s parameters. Therefore, I ask the question; “If Minister Dharamlall thinks that the Mayor and City Council is responsible for garbage out of its jurisdiction?”
What Minister Dharamlall needs to focus on is stepping up more as the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, he needs to come up with a National Solid Waste Plan. His weakness is in plain sight and is being established in the news media daily, along with his lack of leadership to sensitize his Party on the need for a National Solid Waste Plan is evident. The myopic Minister needs to focus on the entire Nation instead of zooming into the Georgetown Mayor and City Council alone, as the Nation includes solid waste from Guyana’s ten Municipalities and over seventy Neighborhood Democratic Councils, plus Village Councils. Further, I wish to challenge Minister Nigel Dharamlall to come up with a recycling plant, waste to energy, so that all citizens can benefit via jobs, ecofriendly environment and in keeping with the sustainable goals of the 21st century. Finally, I implore him to create policies and programs that are macro in nature, whilst being transformational and stop trying to micro manage the entire Local Government System.
As Mayor of the Georgetown Municipality, I do not believe the Central Government is keen on everyone paying their taxes, if this was the case then the 23 years under the PPP before 2015 and now the last three months of 2020 would have reflected this. As only recently, this Government continues to engage in signing contracts with companies and local businesses that do not pay taxes to the Mayor and City Council. I am certain, that international companies and Governments would never do business with tax defaulters in their Cities. The question to ask the Minister of Local Government is; “where are the local businesses getting their compliances to do business with the government from?” The new Guyana Revenue Authority and the new National Insurance Scheme, friends and partners of the Central Government have encouraged businesses to be less tax compliant and, in the process, racked up billions of dollars in taxes owed to City Council. I will seek the Council’s vote to publish the names of those defaulters.
Lastly, in December 2019, I met with Roy Beepat of Giftland Mall to seek a way forward to address his non-payment of taxes. I wish to reiterate that we have a Special Committee set up that meets fortnightly, on Fridays with several business owners and other ratepayers to discuss their backlog of taxes owed to the Mayor and City Council. Some businesses and ratepayers have worked out payment plans/contracts with the Mayor and City Council to ensure that they are making payments, while others make offers but were never committed to paying their taxes.
Mayor of Georgetown