City Hall is broke; salaries unpaid; security service withdraws; garbage collectors may go soon

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 19:05 by Denis Chabrol

Guyana’s capital city, Georgetown, has plunged into a deep financial crisis with no money to pay City workers, contracted security, drainage and garbage collection services, according to well-placed sources.

A senior financial official at City Hall would only say that workers would “most likely” be paid on Friday,  May 27, 2016.

“Money is not there. City Hall does not have money. They are in deep financial problems,” another official told Demerara Waves Online News. Sources said the municipality’s monthly wage and salary bill for fixed and un-fixed workers is estimated at GYD$67 million.

About 800 workers, including City Police, are on the fixed establishment.

The Head of Excalibur Security Services, Retired Lt. Colonel George Gomes confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News that he withdrew  60 security guards from several markets and other municipal locations on Tuesday because his company has been owed a “substantial amount” of money since the end of January. Sources said the debt is more than GYD$30 million. “I wrote them a letter telling them it is untenable and that I cannot continue subsidizing the council,” he said, adding that all he has been getting is “lots of promises” up two weeks ago.

Other sources told Demerara Waves Online News that the two major garbage collection companies – Purans and Cevons- are on the brink of withdrawing their services because they have been owed more than GYD$200 million. “The garbage contractors will pull off shortly if nothing comes through this week,” the source said.

Drainage contractors have also stopped working for City Hall and construction work at the Kitty Market has ground to a halt because there is no more cash, the sources added.

Concerns have since been raised in some quarters about where the estimated GYD$188 million that had been in the City Treasury up to May, 2015 and an additional GYD$584 million from the amnesty have gone.

It is unclear whether City Hall has again racked up social security and income tax debts to the National Insurance Scheme and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), after old debts had been cleared off up to May, 2015.