Newly elected Mayor of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) Patricia Chase-Green has said she welcomes with open arms any attempt by the Auditor General to carry out an audit of City Hall.New City MayorPatricia Chase-GreenA recently elected People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councillor, Bishram Kuppen, just two days ago, joined the list of voices which previously called for an independent probe into the operations of City Hall. He said with the completion of Local Government Elections (LGE) and the appointment of a new Council, it was time that they get down with serious business of managing the affairs of the city.Kuppen said many citizens have expressed grave concern about transparency and accountability at City Hall, especially with the election of past members of the City Council, including the Mayor-elect and Chairman of the Finance Committee and some of its members who have been part of the administration at City Hall for many years.But even with these claims, the new Mayor said she has nothing to hide. She related that even before she became Deputy Mayor, serving under former Mayor Hamilton Greene, she had always been calling for an audit to be held.“Before I became Mayor or Deputy Mayor, I supported audits. I had also written to the Auditor General for him to come to City Hall to carry out an audit”, she told Guyana Times on Friday. She said back in 2012, she had written more than three letters for the then Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker for him to intervene and have the audits done, particularly because of the excessive spending and abuse of funds by then acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba. She said nothing to that effect has taken place.“So, I will not object to an audit. The Auditor General is free to come,” she told this publication. “I have nothing to hide,” she reiterated.The call for an audit was also made by newly elected Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan. He had said, following his swearing in last Friday, that a forensic audit is very much needed at City Hall, which has seen the presence and operation of a single Council for some 23 years. Duncan stated that an audit should be entered into in good faith.Following its ascension to office in May 2015, controversy began over the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) decision to launch forensic audits into almost every State agency in the country, but failed to carry out one into the affairs of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council – an agency said to be plagued by repeated accusations of financial impropriety, which had been backed by several investigations.The City Council for years had failed to address the many issues facing the capital city of Georgetown. While the Council continuously blamed its inability to deal with the problems confronting the capital on the lack of financial resources, then Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker contended otherwise.Whittaker had previously declared that the Council lacked the political will under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to actually commit to responding to the changing dynamics of the city and to provide improved services to residents.More specifically, Whittaker had pointed out that the Council has no serious debt recovery programme to capture the billions of dollars owed in taxes by businesses and residents. Instead, he explained, the Council continuously cried out that the Central Government did not provide adequate funds for it to effectively conduct its operations.
Local Government ElectionsThe Alliance For Change (AFC) held its second National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting for 2018 on Tuesday where a decision was taken to have its leader, Raphael Trotman respond to President David Granger in a “prescribed manner” on the issue of Local Government Elections.The AFC late Tuesday evening said the meeting was held at the Georgetown Club and was attended by members of the NEC, representatives from all the administrative regions and Diaspora representatives, including persons from Grenada who represented the AFC’s Caribbean Chapter.According to the party, Trotman reported to the meeting that on April 30, he received a response to the AFC letter dated February 26, 2018, which was sent to leader of the A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), President David Granger. The AFC letter outlined a number of matters, including the issue of the approach to Local Government Elections and the response from Granger proposed “a certain course of action.”“The NEC deliberated on this matter and mandated the leader respond to His Excellency in a prescribed manner. This will be done in the coming days and following the dispatch of that communication, the AFC will make a more detailed statement on the issue,” the AFC in a statement said on Tuesday evening.Last month, after months of uncertainty, AFC Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan said the party will be going into the LGE with the APNU under one ticket.“We have made a decision that we are going as a coalition. We have to thrash out a number of issues preferably in relation to candidacy candidates, and a number of other things,” he told the press, while noting that the AFC has noticed some unfortunate developments in the Georgetown municipality.Ramjattan was referring to the attitude of APNU Councillors, including Town Clerk Royston King towards AFC members, which he claimed is “bothering us.” The AFC Chairman indicated that statements in this regard have been made and will be officially raised through communication with APNU officials.In mid-January, Trotman had announced the possibility of the party breaking away from the APNU for this year’s LGE. The AFC leader went as far as to reveal that there was a strong opinion of body within the party that the AFC should go alone, which may have been prompted over delays with reviewing the Cummingsburg Accord.The AFC has, of recent, come under fire for the perceived submissive role it played when it joined forces with APNU. In 2017, top leadership of the AFC had decided to revise its governing agreement with APNU.