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Time for capital towns; self-financed, business-oriented municipalities- Granger

President David Granger addressing the 126th Annual General Meeting of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

President David Granger addressing the 126th Annual General Meeting of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Five days after Guyana’s first Local Government Elections in more than 20 years, Guyana’s President David Granger on Thursday announced plans to promote the creation of capital towns in interior regions and he called for all municipalities to generate their own funds and become self-sustainable.

“Municipalities must be capable of weaning themselves off of government subvention and earn their keep. They must generate their own resources, financing and raise revenues to finance their development,” he said.

Addressing the 126th Annual General Meeting of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) held at the Pegasus Hotel, the Guyanese leader said Mabaruma must become the capital of Region One (Barima-Waini), Bartica the capital of Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Lethem the capital of Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) and eventually Mahdia the capital of Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) when it is declared a town later this year.

Granger further recommended that municipalities begin operating as corporate entities to earn sustainable revenues and profits. “Municipalities must function like corporations. This corporate status will allow them greater autonomy and financial independence. It will expand their revenue base and allow them ti invest their surplus revenue prudently,” he said.

Secretary of the GCCI, Nicholas Deygoo welcomed President Granger’s ideas. “It really would be good to see the takeoff and the development of the local areas so that at least basic transactions with the (Guyana) Revenue Authority or any other government agency can be done,” he said.

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Secretary of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nicholas Deygoo delivering the vote of thanks at the closing of the Annual General Meeting.

The President expects that towns will eventually be able to finance their own infrastructure including the construction of aerodromes, bridges, wharves and sport facilities. He hopes that a corporate approach to town management would help them to partner with businesses in the processing of agriculture produce for local and international markets.

Arguing that the LGE, which were held on March 19, 2016, were an “opportunity for economic change,” he said the creation of regional capital towns would help stimulate innovation, investment and infrastructural development as well as reduce the cost of doing business, some of which is currently done in other regions. “Capital towns, therefore, have an important role to play in the development of our regions by encouraging growth,” he said. He reasoned that public infrastructure would reduce transportation cost, improve market access, increase competitiveness of production and stimulate output.  In the area of investment, he expects that this factor will spur new industries and aid in economic growth, create non-agriculture jobs such as banking, shipping, telecommunications, micro-financing and stimulate manufacturing at industrial estates. The President hopes that Information Communications Technology will help playing field between towns and rural areas.

The President said the time has come for a capital town mindset in which towns must move beyond traditional municipal services and also promote business, drive economic development and give leadership to Guyana’s regions. “Guyana will develop only if its regions are strong. Our regions must no longer be viewed as mere administrative appendages if central government. Our regions must become motors of economic growth,” he said.

Granger hopes that town councils will pay attention to the education of children by ensuring that they attend and remain in school.

The President also reiterated the need for Guyana’s towns to explore ways of using renewable energy, the recycling of waste, the adoption of economically sound practices, the reduction of pollution and help relieve unemployment and poverty.

  • Emile_Mervin

    How does Granger ‘s call now for municipalities to be self-sustaining via fund generation compare with his pre-LGE call for voters to support the coalition candidates at the ballot box coalition local government officials will have connections with Central Government to help build roads and houses and other projects?

    See, this is the skullduggery of Guyanese politics that chases people to other countries, because politicians talk out of both sides of the mouths.

    And just how exactly are municipalities supposed to generate their own funds when there is not even an economic plan for Guyana? This government is pretty much running on the plans inherited from the PPP, because I have not seen any major economic plan that originated from the coalition.

    • rudeo

      Note…..the PPP dominated agricultural regions will hold all to ransom with their massive weapon,,,,FOOD

    • KassemB

      ‘And just how exactly are municipalities supposed to generate their own funds when there is not even an economic plan for Guyana?’
      Because the President already know that the Gov’t would not be able to pay their wages and allowances, and is coming clean by saying that that you have to learn to feed your self and don’t bank on the State to keep feeding you as what we done with GuySuCo the last time we were in power.

  • Col123

    Central govt to pursue a lais-sez faire approach after LGE….”Municipalities must be capable of weaning themselves off of government subvention and earn their keep”…will central govt pocket the taxes?…and the local folks to invest their surplus revenue?..revenue from where?….when the LGs need monies for projects..do they go to the bank?..maybe…the answer lies in the LG exploring adoption of economically sound practices…there we go…apply the laws of supply and demand…

  • Pam

    There he goes again………..Granger the joker………doesn”t have a clue of what is the right thing to do! Guyana continues to suffer, like some one with an incurable disease.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Meet me at Markham and Sheppard tomorrow at 4 pm. I have a muffler for that noise coming from your brain.

  • Col123

    Gt: good thoughts…I agree…let’s move forward for the folks who need it most,..keep it up….

  • Emile_Mervin

    Other democracies do have self-sufficient local governments, but Guyana is not on the same level as other democracies when it comes to local government systems and structures. The reality in Guyana is a top-down political execution of government agenda at the local level backed by government financing.

    In fact, according to Granger in the run up to LGE, only those elected officials with connections to the central government could receive road building and housing development help in communities. What kind of message was he sending?

    IMHO, Granger is sending mixed messages, and while I favor independent, self-sufficient local government, a plan of action to help towns become self-sufficient is what he should be unfolding.

    For example, bauxite is indigenous to Linden, right? So, let the Linden community be paid directly by Bosai for bauxite exploitation and shipment or by Bai Shan Lin for logging exploitation and shipment. Some of the money received will go towards the community and the rest will go to central Government. Extrapolate that concept into other communities whose natural resources are being explored for financial gain and then we will be talking a different story. Otherwise, this talk by Granger is just that: talk!

    • Col123

      I am surprised that no one called you a C more on for stating what the Pres said about connections to the govt…It was all politics pre LGE talk..What is worrying is the Pres. is all over the charts with no viable agenda..or plan for the course….

      • Emile_Mervin

        After Burnham and Jagdeo, we have to learn to hold local political leaders accountable for their words, because when we stay silent, we can see what happens. We cannot afford blind loyalty to parties and politicians anymore.

  • Emile_Mervin

    You cannot tell me my idea is valid then turn around and tell me to give the man a darn chance, because my valid idea is integral to the whole point in the post.

    Besides, I hold no blind loyalty to any party or politician, because if we want better than what transpired the last 28 and then 23 years we have to constantly hold leaders’ feet to the fire so they know supporters and critics alike are watching. Nothing personal, only political.

    • Gtloyal

      My apologies for the last sentence in my previous comment to you if you saw it as being offensive. It was not meant to be so.
      I’ll insist that your ideas are valid but at the same time we should give the government some time to execute, for they are definitely not in a good position to do much now due to those pending cases on corruption and the country’s economic state.
      Keep the fire blazing.

  • rs dasai

    Trying to shirk responsibility?

  • Col123

    Decentralization has its challenges…..When these cities start to function in the “corporate mode ” , what are the plans for any city failing as a corporation?…”Are corporations people too?”…..some politician said that corporations are people…I recall….Do we sell them like we plan with those sugar estates?…Can I purchase one of those cities which may fail as a corporate entity.?…

  • Gtloyal

    “The president needs to weigh in on the cost of these interior urban centers …” True.
    It is obvious that this is an undertaking where all arms of the government must participate for it to be successful. The towns already exist but developing their local industries is the immediate goal. Only this can bring a better life to the people.
    The municipalities must initiate the changes however, for they are the ones who know their potentials and what can be sustainable. Too many times we have seen projects initiated in the interior communities by central governments or “outside experts” fail, owing to it not gaining the full support, approval and thus, the participation of the locals because these do not see it as what they want. Everyone must listen to the input of the municipalities when choosing the area of development, or let them decide.