Future financial support for municipalities hinges on the ability of each council to account for their expenditure of the sum dispersed.
This is according to Local Government Minister, Nigel Dharamlall.
During a recent interview on Kaieteur Radio’s ‘Room 592’, hosted by Dr. Yog Mahadeo and Senior Journalist, Leonard Gildarie, Minister Dharamlall highlighted the need for more accountability of the expenditure of millions of dollars in subvention dispersed to the various councils by Central Government, annually.
As the Local Government Minister noted that the municipalities must account for any subvention/tranche that they receive.
“I intend to work closely with the Georgetown and other councils to ensure that the taxes they collect are well spent and managed properly. We are looking to ensure that the same goes for the subvention that they receive each year; that is well spent and accounted for. In the past, all subventions, these councils received, they kept but I intend to ensure that every tranche they receive now is because they have accounted for the previous tranche.”
Dharamlall’s comments on the need for transparency on the spending by municipalities follow similar statements by City Mayor’s, Ubraj Narine, on the issue.
Narine told the press recently that the Georgetown Council has been working to improve the level of transparency and accountability on expenditure.
“In 2019,” the Mayor added, “I told the people when I took office that under my watch, this council will be working towards, transparency and accountability. We did not divert in any way from trying to do so. We want when money is spent at City Hall people must get value for their money.”
As such, Narine said that he has been working with the council members to bring this into fruition. He noted too that under his tenure, the $300M subvention from Central Government was well spent.
“We have all our records from 2019. When I took over in January, we met with the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Communities … it was actually outlined to me how I must spend this money as Mayor. The garbage trucks were bought, three tractors, the administration building which is under construction, and other areas including the $75 M which was spent in the constituencies. All of which was done when I first took office and all the monies were accounted for,” he explained.
Narine also reminded that he inherited a council which was over $6B in debt.
“We had a lot of matters to work out. We had contracts that were given out to clean the cemetery, some of the documents I could not find. We were told that verbal contracts for millions of dollars were given out and there were no records so we tried to call in those people and have our engineers go on the ground to see if work was exactly what they claim for. I wasn’t the Mayor then, neither was the current Town Clerk in the position,” he reiterated.
“We want the public to know that City Hall is moving in the direction of accounting for the spending,” the Mayor said. As such, the Mayor said that he is adamant about having a special financial audit of the entire Council for year 2019.