It’s time for the nation to ban Georgetown City Council
Kaieteur News – I don’t know if it’s true but a businessman from Regent Street told me that the City Council has a new requirement for ensuring compliance. When you sell a property, the City Council has to give you a certificate of compliance, which means you’ve cleared your rates and taxes. I have been told that City Hall is now demanding zero point five percent of the property’s valuation.
I can’t see how this nation could accept that. I can’t see how the business community can accept that. I can’t believe that’s real. It can’t be real so I move on with my intended analysis of the waste land that Georgetown City Council owns. No matter what ethnicity you belong to in Guyana, no matter which political party you subscribe to, it must appeal to your conscience that this entity is one of the most dysfunctional governmental units in the world.
It is not for the lay person to do the research. The research is to be undertaken by central government in its attempt to remove the City Council and replace it with an innovative organization after wide consultation. This is the essence of the research. Go back to council records 35 years ago. Go back to all the newspapers 35 years ago. There is one recurring theme – City Council income does not allow it to function properly.
That was 35 years ago. That was 1985. From the time President Hoyte opened the economy in the 1988 budget, the face of Georgetown in 2020 that is from Agricola to Plaisance is not much like Georgetown in 1985. This country has little physical appearance to Guyana in 1985. Every possible urban ward is a new world from the appearance we know they had in 1985.
Take Charlestown in 1985 as a low-income ward with low-income earners. Visit Charlestown today, especially Broad Street. If the City Council in 1985 collected rates and taxes from one million properties, in 2020 that number is now 10 million. Georgetown’s physical landscape is a whole new world compared to 1985. Let’s put it another way; if the City Council collected a billion dollars in income from the city in 1985, given the intense change in the landscape that number should be 100 billion.
It’s breathtaking and a sight to behold when Georgetown has changed over the past 35 years. I am not talking about stunning structures that have sprung up in the heart of Georgetown – Stabroek, Bourda, Cummingsburg, Kingston, Lacytown and Brickdam. Visit all streets in Alberttown, Queenstown, Kitty, Campbellville, Newtown, Subryanville, Bel Air, Charlestown, South Ruimveldt, Meadow Bank, Meadow Brook, Lodge, Wortmanville, Roxanne Burnham Gardens, Prashad Nagar, Lamaha Gardens, Liliendaal, Turkeyen, Industry, Ogle, Courida Park, etc., and see the huge structures that have come up. The adjective giant is just an understatement.
It is literally impossible for the City Council not to wake up with hundreds of billions of dollars. Take every four-level building that has come up through the physical jurisdiction of the City Council, there are hundreds and hundreds of them. Some humorous buildings have been erected in Georgetown over the past 20 years which are unexpected to the City Council.
How did I reach 100 billion? City Hall income can easily be calculated when you take what the average taxpayer contributes to City Hall coffers and combine that figure with the thousands of new buildings in the last 20 years. This figure can be reached not only by using a calculator but with the naked eyes. Just drive around the other wards I mentioned above like Kitty, Campbellville, Subryanville, Industry and Ogle, and you’ll find that given that reality, City Hall earns billions every month and hides it or steal it, or only low-income people pay their rates and taxes.
Something’s not right here. Something has died wrong here. How with this physical transformation of a wise Georgetown, can City Hall still complain because it does not have enough money to perform its basic functions? This mystery needs to be explained. More than perhaps explaining, it needs to be examined with forensic rigor.
Central government should suspend the City Council, set up a temporary management committee that represents a cross section of the association and examine the amount of rates and taxes City Hall collects from all property under its jurisdiction. I end with a bold assertion and would like to see the statistical argument against my assertion – given the innumerable buildings in Georgetown, City Hall must be overflowing with money.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.)