City Hall CoI…calls for criminal charges to be laidThe Mayor and City Council’s unbalanced and bankrupted condition is linked to corruption, incompetence and the embezzlement of resources with those in superiority being the central malefactors.This was the position shared by former presidential advisor Ramon Gaskin who submitted his witness statement and evidence before retired Justice Cecil Kennard at Wednesday’s Commission of Inquiry at the Critchlow Labour College on Woolford Avenue, Thomas Lands, Georgetown.“Mismanagement, corruption and incompetence and stealing… They’re too incompetent and unqualified… City Hall is bankrupt like the Berbice Bridge,” said the former consultant.Gaskin made these remarks based on his contact with employees of the Council in 2012, but also shared his views as an economist.In 2009, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Keith Burrowes had carried out an extensive inquiry into the state of affairs at City Hall.This led to Gaskin’s appointment in May of 2012 to verify if the recommendations from the report were implemented. Upon investigating, it was found that none of these recommendations were applied to the operations of the local organ body.“He (Burrowes) did the inquiry for the City Council in 2009 and in 2012, he hired me to go and inquire if they had implemented any of his recommendations. I got the opportunity to go there… The recommendations of Burrowes were not implemented.”While that report was submitted the following June, the economist said he delved into other matters of the Council where astonishing financial procedures and other questionable incidents were unearthed. From those signals, he is of the belief that the Town Council has adequate revenues to sustain operations but it is being hindered by mishandling of funds.Being tasked to provide him with a list of outstanding revenues and taxes, staffersCity Treasurer John Douglasprovided documents which indicated that over $12 billion were owed from businesses and taxpayers.“They’re bankrupted now but that’s because of their own mismanagement of the financial affairs of the city… The amount owed to City Council at that time was $12 billion. It’s a confronted lie that they don’t have money. If they run the place properly, they will have enough money to do their work,” he said.Documents provided to the Commission revealed that on one occasion, a payment of $2,845,125 was made to an entity under the name MTM General Contraction and Services but the letterhead only had the company title with no address or contact number.A noted inscribed at the bottom of the letter was written by the then City Engineer, instructing that the cheque be written to a person instead.“No address, no telephone number, no nothing. The engineer is telling the chief accountant how to write this cheque in the name of this person in his own handwriting.”OveremploymentAnother issue which seemed baffling was the quantity of individuals that the Council employed, amounting to over 800. The doubled workforce causes a steep increase in the payroll and it is one which City Hall cannot sustain.“You have over 800 persons to pay every Friday. Right now the payroll is over $100 million per month to find for these people. Any time you got 800 people working in a place where you only need 300 and you have to find $100 million aEconomist Ramon Gaskin,month to pay them, then you’re in big trouble,” Gaskin advised.Under-qualified persons are also acquiring posts that do not suit their qualifications.One such instance is the appointment of the Internal Auditor, Omadeily Newton, who possesses only a Public Management Degree. For Gaskin, an auditor should have accounting qualifications and experience.“Auditing is part of the whole accountancy profession. To learn to do auditing, you have to learn accountancy.”Adding to that, the person should operate independently but Newton works from the Town Clerk’s Office which is extremely contradicting.One of Burrowes’ recommendations was for the establishment of an Internal Audit Department which never materialised. In the City Treasury Department, Gaskin is certain that a majority of the persons are not trained in accountancy.He pointed out that in the year 2000, the Auditor General at that time had stated that they hadn’t conducted any financial assessment of the Council in one decade. Following up in 2016, an announcement was made that no audits were orchestrated in 12 years.“The whole accountancy and books and ledger were wrong…”19 allowancesDuring 2012, 19 allowances were disbursed when the need arose and was distinct from the employees’ monthly salary. A list was tendered for evidence and coincides with one that was submitted by the Audit Office of Guyana.The stipends included acting, cashier, clothing, commuted overtime, double-time, duty, entertainment, honour, housing, increment on salary, laundry, leave passage, meals, overtime, premium, responsibility, risk allowance and travelling, retroactive payments and miscellaneous.“They had 19 different types of allowances on top of your salary. Isn’t that a nice place to work? By now, they might have more than 19.”While the Town Clerk Royston King is considered “the epicenter” of corruption and has been “getting the brunt of the “attack”, Gaskin posited that the abuse of power has led to several violations of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01.In his final recommendation, Gaskin called for criminal charges to be laid after the probe against those persons who are guilty of any offences while on duty at the Georgetown Town Council, as well as a complete overhaul of its management body.
…says only PPP stands between Govt and corruptionFormer President and current Opposition Leader Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has called on supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to become foot soldiers in an effort to make the party the strongest ever.On Sunday, as he addressed close to seven thousand supporters gathered at the Babu Jaan Monument Site on the Corentyne in East Berbice for the annual wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of the late President Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan, the Opposition leader predicted that the PPPC would be returned to power at the next General Elections slated for 2020. As such, he urged supporters to strive towards strengthening the party, since the current administration is sending clear signals that it wants to drive fear into the working class and, to a lesser extent, the business community as well as certain ethnic communities.Former President Donald Ramotar pays tribute to Dr JaganOutlining the current administration’s dismal performance, particularly in regard to the ongoing efforts to close more sugar estates, Jagdeo said President Granger has made it clear that Government will not spend money on the sugar industry.“The President has made it clear: ‘I don’t want sugar on the books’. So now that he has said that, in spite of all that they are arguing about, they have to now close some estates, like they are planning (to do) at Rose Hall and Enmore and several of the cultivations. They have to do this because the President doesn’t want to spend a cent on sugar, although sugar only needs transitional help, because it could turn around in the future,” Jagdeo stated.Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds lays a wreath at the memorialHe also questioned the Government’s unwillingness to save thousands of jobs, and the rationale behind such a move. “Government did not spend too much money on the Skeldon Sugar Factory. If we (had) spent too much on sugar, how is it that in 2015 and 2016, the Gold Board lost $27B?” Jagdeo asked. “That is more that the entire cost of the entire Skeldon Factory; and Banks DIH is suing the Government for $28B because of a decision they made to give DDL some tax write offs. The lawsuit alone will cost us more than the cost for the entire Skeldon Factory. How can they find physical space for those reasons and they can’t find physical space to help the sugar industry?”Alluding to the role of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Jagdeo asserted that the agency is now acting in an unconstitutional way. Making mention of an incident on Friday during which members of SARA visited a businessman and asked him to produce certain documents, the Opposition Leader said SARA is now doing the work that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) should be doing.“Why is it that SARA will take a businessman into the Office of the President compound when it has no legal authority to do so? The reason is simple: they want to drive fear in the business community. These businessmen, if they dare to take a stand in this country, they must be afraid of the repressive nature of this Government (and) the ‘Burnhamite’ tools that they are using. Why is it that sugar workers who, when they now go on strike – which is a routine thing provided for by law – they are told that, ‘If you continue to do this, we will shut down the factory’? It is with the aim of driving fear into the hearts and minds of sugar workers, so that they would become less militant, they would not want to take protest action, because if they do there will be consequences.“Why is it that after putting the Value Added Tax [VAT] on private education and on educational material – and there is a petition and protest about it – the President says, ‘Their people are tax dodgers’?”Jagdeo also pointed to intimidatory tactics being employed against members of the judiciary. “When the rulings of Judges and Magistrates go against the Government, the Attorney General uses the Chronicle newspaper and launches an attack on them. So no Judge, no independent body, will in the future want to take a decision against the Government, because they would be subjected to an assault (by) this Government; because they are fearful that it will harm them in their upliftment,” Jagdeo said.He said Government is also trying to drive fear in the mining sector. Explaining that in his opinion what Government has done is split the mining movement, the Opposition Leader said Government’s second move would be to go after the large miners; so the small miners have become fearful that Government would come after them, demanding large sums of money in taxes.Addressing the way forward, Jagdeo urged supporters of the PPP to accept all those who are returning to the party. “It is the Cheddi Jagan way!” he said. According to the Opposition Leader, party supporters must defend democracy at all cost; and on that score, he called on them to become foot soldiers.Since his death in 1997, the life and works of the iconic Dr. Jagan, who served as this nation’s 3rd Executive President, have been celebrated annually, with thousands making the pilgrimage in his remembrance to the Babu Jaan Crematorium at Port Mourant on the Corentyne Coast in East Berbice.Born on March 22, 1918, Dr. Jagan died on March 06, 1997. Over the years, the month of March has been dedicated to remember and reflect on the invaluable contributions he has made to the development of Guyana and Guyanese.Also addressing the gathering were Hydar Ally, former President Donald Ramotar, former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, representatives of the People’s Youth Organisation, the youth wing of the PPP (PYO), and the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO).
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Flyers are getting ready for the 2018 season with an exhibition game as they hit the road to Dawson Creek to take on the Canucks. This first exhibition game will take place on October 13 at the Chetwynd Rec Centre.The first home game for the Flyers, in pre-season action, is October 20 as they host the Canucks.The first game of the regular season for the Flyers is October 27 as they host Grande Prairie.- Advertisement -There is one change to this year’s 2018-19 NPHL season schedule. The change to the schedule will include the elimination of Tuesday games, with an addition of 1 Wednesday game. This is the first time in over 60 years that the NPHL has scheduled no games for Tuesday.In total, the 2018-19 NPHL season will compromise of 78 games.