‘New Amsterdam needs help’

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—-Mayor accuses PPPC deliberately stymieing development of township

By Clifford Stanley

Mayor of New Amsterdam in Region 6 (East Berbice/Corentyne) Mrs Winifred Heywood has said that the ruling People’ Progressive Party/Civic has over the past year been carrying out a deliberate policy of non-support for the township.

In an interview with Village Voice News the Mayor said: “New Amsterdam is in bad shape. New Amsterdam needs help.”

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Among other the issues she complained about was the late provision of the annual subvention from Central Government. She stated that the Council usually gets an annual subvention from Central Government early in the year. “They kept back this first tranche of the $18M subvention until late in the second half of the year.”

“That $9M barely provided for repairs and maintenance of two and half streets in the Town. This is November and we have not received the second $9M. Looks like we will get a race against time to get the remaining $9M before the end of the year,” she said.

The Mayor disclosed too that after coming into Government last year, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall had promised that he would give the Council $40M for developmental works in New Amsterdam before the end of 2020.

She added: “Maybe he was just pulling a fast one on the Council because instead of $40M he gave us a mere $5M with no explanation for the reduced amount.”

The Mayor explained that ideally the township should raise its funds for its projects but the amounts derived from rates and taxes fluctuate so much that sometimes the Council barely breaks even and sometimes even run into the red. Payment of salaries for Staff in keeping with the national minimum wages alone, she said, took a huge chunk out of the monies collected.

Some politicians have been coaching the business community in New Amsterdam not to pay taxes. “In our town a lot of the business people have not paid their taxes; some of the business people used to pay their taxes on land alone which is small money but when you build something on it you have to pay more and they are constructing but they are not paying.”

She stressed that even though the Council welcomed the $18M annual subvention from Government, this amount was a mere pittance when set against the sums required for true development to take place in the Town. “This is the oldest Town in Guyana. New Amsterdam was established one hundred and thirty years ago. They cannot support us in the identical way they support the newer towns. New Amsterdam needs more money. The subvention given is grossly inadequate.”

She added that the town generally depends heavily on subventions and other Government support to get badly needed projects done. She said: “Now with the APNU /AFC you could have talked to them; you could have asked them for an audience. They set a day for a meeting and they came and discussed your problems with you.”

In all cases, she said, the APNU/AFC Administration rendered assistance whether it was technical or otherwise. “We even used to get Grants from them to do various projects for the development of our town. Under this Government things have changed. Even though we ask for assistance, we are getting nothing, absolutely nothing. What is happening is that the PPPC Administration is deliberately withholding resources from the Town; deliberately stymieing development in the town merely because it is a perceived APNU AFC stronghold.”

The Mayor charged that the neglect by Central Government is having a serious effect on the quality of life in the Town.

The Mayor confessed: “I can tell you that as Mayor I am really really embarrassed with what is happening to the town of New Amsterdam.”.

“I am so ashamed: we can’t clean the canals; can’t prevent the flooding; can’t do this, can’t do that. At the moment we are having serious problems in collecting our solid waste. New Amsterdam needs help.”

The Mayor called on the Government to recognise that although the town was being run by a APNU/AFC dominated council, it was not only APNU/AFC people living in it.

“There are also PPPC people and supporters of other political parties. And none of us will be better off than anybody else if current sad state of affairs in relation to development of the town continues.”



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