VP expresses concern with City Hall’s proposals to increase revenue collection

The lack of financial accountability and transparency at City Hall shadows the presentation of its Budget for 2024.

This is according to Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo who said that, “The budget was presented with very little information about past expenditure and we know about the lack of audits for the Georgetown City Council over several years. If you don’t have audits, you can’t verify how much you collected or spent. So, they operate in this opaque environment deliberately. It’s not that they can’t do the audit, because it is simple to get an audit done – you prepare the financial statements and you hire an auditor. Its not that they can’t do it.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Dr Jagdeo said the mayor and opposition Councillors appear to “like” that sort of environment where there are no transparency and accountability.

“They want to operate in that environment because in that environment, you can spend on whatever you want, you are not guided by a budget – like up to now, they’ve spent for the past five months and they are not guided by a budget, so who made the call on what they spent substantial amounts of money on from January of this year to date? They are not guided by a budget, so it’s the Mayor and a few others who will determine what they spend on, unilaterally,” he said, during a news conference on Thursday, at the Office of the President.

Jagdeo charged that in such a situation there is a lot of room for corruption and underhand ‘deals’, all of which undermine the efficacy of City Hall’s operations.

“They refuse to address this, despite of all the efforts of our part to do so…and any efforts on our part is seen as though we have imperial ambitions, as if we want to control the City Council,” he lamented.

According to the Vice President, the lack of attention on real work in the City forces Central Government to step in to address issues such as drainage, etc.

“Then they will claim that they do not get support from the Central Government,” he said.

Dr Jagdeo also took issue with some of the proposals made by City Hall to increase revenue collection, including parate executions (foreclosures) and increase rates and taxes via “adjustments to the rates charged on some properties” and the creation of “valuation lists for areas not currently listed in the city”.  

He said, “Now we see the true nature of the APNU+AFC-led City Council.

The Vice President added that this move also exposes the untruth peddled by the APNU+AFC at the 2023 Local Government Elections, that it will be the PPP/C that will increase rates and taxes and embark on the sale of properties in the City.

On Wednesday, the financially strained Mayor and City Council of Georgetown approved a substantial $3.297 billion budget for 2024. Their strategy revolves around revenue collection, with a targeted effort to pursue overdue rates and taxes.