As it becomes increasingly apparent that Guyana’s long-delayed local government election is unlikely before year-end, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission Ronald Webster wants an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to rescue the insanitary city.
Webster said that with plans to hold the polls are dragging on since the last one was held in 1994, he has now shifted his position to the need for a group of non-political persons to run the city.
“Initially I didn’t. Now I do. Something has got to be done, we can’t continue like this,” he said.
Webster hoped that an IMC would bring expertise to rescue the city from the crisis. “It can’t be selected from a political basis. It’s got to be a contracted group whose job is to get the city organised,” he said.
The PSC Chairman said he planned to raise the suggestion of an IMC with the other executive members of the umbrella business organisatgion.
A Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) source has already said that it needs at least six months to prepare for that poll, crucial to the replacement of town councils and village councils. GECOM recently concluded another cycle of continuous registration which has seen thousands more persons being added to the list of registrants from which eligible voters would be extracted.
Webster’s call for an IMC comes as piles of commercial and domestic garbage across Georgetown have almost become a way of life. Alleyways, canals and drains remain clogged with vegetation and garbage, resulting in mosquito and fly infestation as well as flooding whenever there is rainfall. The Georgetown Municipality has been doing a poor job at garbage collection, forcing residents and some businesses to dump their refuse on parapets.
For its part, the main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has said that a parliamentary select committee was wrapping up its work to approve several key pieces of local government laws.
APNU frontbencher, Basil Williams said his parliamentary alliance opposed an IMC and was working assiduously in the committee to bring back the several pieces of legislation to the House for approval.
“Our position is that we need to hold elections quickly within the reform system. It doesn’t make sense having an IMC now,” he told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).
The parliamentary select committee has already completed review of the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill. Attention is now being paid to the Fiscal Transfers Bill that addresses the formula for allocating resources to the councils.
More than a decade ago when Georgetown was in a less severe crisis, government had appointed an IMC, a move Minister of the Environment Robert Persaud said government was resisting because it would not get support from APNU. “The establishment of an IMC would require broad political support and any time that the government has raised the issue of an IMC, it has always been met with rejection particularly from APNU,” he told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).
The Environment Minister said that while the Georgetown Municipality was not doing enough to clean the city, ordinary Guyanese needed to avoid littering.