THE United States Embassy in Georgetown has not yet been refunded the US$10,000 grant given to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to fix the Stabroek Clock, prompting Mayor Ubraj Narine to question why this has not yet been done.
A representative from the embassy called the City Council last Friday about the matter, but acting Town Clerk, Sharon Harry, informed that she was engaged and could not speak with the individual.
Acting City Treasurer, John Douglas, confirmed when the statutory meeting got underway on Monday, that the money has not yet been handed over. “Give me a reason,” the mayor responded, but Douglas did not stand to respond.
The acting town clerk opted to respond by offering an explanation that a report has to be done by the M&CC and perused by the embassy representative before the handing over.
But the mayor indicated that he is in possession of an email from the embassy that they are waiting on the City Council to make contact with them.
“I don’t know who is lying and who is telling the truth,” Narine mentioned, adding that he is hoping that the money will be returned before the end of this week.
At the previous statutory meeting, the M&CC announced that the money given to them as a grant to help fix the alarm on the Stabroek Market clock had to be forfeited.
The grant had been secured through the auspices of former US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway back in 2016, the very year Guyana celebrated its Golden Jubilee, as well as 50 years of diplomatic ties with the US.
At the time of the announcement, Ambassador Holloway had been quoted as saying that the embassy was willing to work with the M&CC on getting the clock up and running, and that after discussing the matter with his affiliates in the US, the sum was approved for the cause through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
The first sum of money was given the City Treasurer’s Department in the form of a cheque for US$10,000, the equivalent of G$2M at today’s going rate, following which the council had advertised via the print media for qualified contractors to submit tenders.
Of all the contractors who had responded at the time, one Carlyle Benjamin was shortlisted, since his proposal was deemed the most suitable. The US Embassy had also communicated to the council that they were exploring other options to have the iconic heritage item restored, one of which was having the world renowned Smithsonian Institute in the US effect the repairs.
But, that idea soon had to be shelved, because the cost to restore the clock was quite exorbitant; hence, the decision to return the money, and only after lengthy discussions were held with embassy representatives.