Cash-strapped M&CC earmarks $20M for City Week celebrations

first_imgThe Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown (M&CC) was recently unable to pay wages and salaries, and had to seek from Central Government a bailout in excess of $475 million. Mere months later, this entity has earmarked $20 million to host “City Week”, to mark the birth of Georgetown.This worrying issue was raised at Monday’s statutory meeting by Councillor Carolyn Caesar, who questioned the purpose of the celebration, especially with the City in its current financial position.“I had asked for some information about the purpose of this celebration and what was its budget. It was later circulated to the value of $20 million… That is a lot of money to be expended on such an exercise. That money can be paid to the NIS; so I don’t think that it is necessary that we have this event this year,” Caesar promulgated.A shabby section of City HallIn response, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green said the idea of City Week is something that was started some time ago, but, due to a mix-up in dates, was never kicked off.“For me, even if we don’t have this big, grand celebration that will cost $20 million — because I don’t know how we (got the figure of) $20 million — we have done it (in) previous years, and we would be getting back some money,” she said.“If you don’t want this big celebration, then we must recognize the day the city was born; and (on) that day, at least you must have some activity to mark that day. If $20 million is too exorbitant, then you must have something, even if it is a church service and a display of the City Constabulary. Because you have Berbice Town Week, Linden Town Week, and all of that; so it is reintroducing that to the city,” Chase-Green expanded.The Council’s Social Development Committee is responsible for hosting the City Week celebrations, and Chairperson of the Committee, Councillor Monica Thomas, explained that the budgeted sum is just “a ballpark figure,” the activity could exceed or be lower than that sum.She added that the committee is treating the event also as a fundraiser. “What we are treating this as is a fund-raising event mostly. You will have other things, but it is a way of garnering money,” she related.Councillor Khame Sharma said the $20 million figure is a cause for concern, since that money could be used for other purposes.Councillor Malcolm Ferreira noted that the capital city should be allowed to celebrate as well, and threw his support behind the event. “I am pretty sure that there are things that could be done that don’t have to cost so much. There are artists, poets and others who would be willing to provide their services for free, and I would support something like that, but not (at a cost of) $20 million,” Ferreira said.In a move to stymie Councillors’ questions, the mayor ordered that a structured programme be prepared and brought to ‘full council’ to be vetted. She also used the opportunity to remind that the aim of the event is to raise funds for the Social Development Committee, so that committee could execute its functions.City Hall has, over the months, found itself figuratively between a rock and a hard place relative to the management of its financial resources. The municipality have been unable to pay workers their wages and salaries, resulting in mass protests being staged; and NIS, PAYE and credit union dues deducted from the workers’ emoluments have not been paid over to the relevant agencies.Last Monday, Town Clerk Royston King announced that a section of City Hall had “simply fallen off”, bring attention to the need for urgent repairs to be effected on that edifice. However, City Hall administration has said it is not in a financial position to execute the urgent repairs required on the building.last_img

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