THE Mayor and City Council continues to work in all local communities to improve the physical condition and image of the nation’s capital.In this effort, the Georgetown Municipality is faced with a number of very serious challenges, including grossly inadequate financial resources. This financial inadequacy is predicated upon the Council’s very narrow revenue base, which is further affected by the neglect of some property owners to honour their civic obligation to the city — to pay their taxes.
In addition, the council has not had valuation of properties for more than two decades. Many property owners have changed the use of their properties from residential to commercial, but continue to pay residential rates; and many new businesses have been established paying rates based on the old formula for valuation in the city.
There are some highly principled companies that honour their obligations to the city. However, there are others that do not demonstrate any sense of corporate social responsibility; for example, NICIL. NICIL owes the Council a substantial sum going back as far as 2008, including $182 million for property in Kingston, and additional hundreds of millions of dollars for properties in Industrial Site and Charlestown.
Also, businesses like Georgetown Fishermen Cooperative Society owe the Council in excess of $164 million;
Queensway owes $55 million; and other big businesses are indebted to this council in substantial amounts.
In addition, when the Guyana Power and Light Inc. took over from Guyana Electricity Corporation, many years ago, it did not honour the debt of the former corporation. Also, a previous Administration took lands from Council in the Kingston area, (Luckhoo swimming pool) to construct the Marriott Hotel, and the city was not compensated for this. Guyana Water Inc. took over from the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commission. The council was never compensated for the transfer of its assets to the new water company.
Also, the fact that there has been an increase in the cost of goods and services used by the Council to provide services to local communities means that the council is required to pay VAT, and there has been no increase in property rates for over 20 years.
At the moment, Council is working to improve its efficiency to collect outstanding taxes.
A recent report from the City Treasurer’s Department revealed that the Council is owed in excess of $18 billion in taxes by corporations and ordinary property owners. This money must be collected, because it belongs to the city and the municipality needs every cent to sustain current level of works in communities, and to provide additional services and facilities to all residents in neighbourhoods.
The Council has already activated legal proceedings against those businesses mentioned in this release, and a number of others that failed consistently to pay their taxes to the city. As we look ahead, we continue to thank our workers for their patience, understanding and support to our effort to restore Georgetown to its pristine state.
It is important to note that the opportunity cost in cleaning and restoring the city after years of neglect is delayed payments of wages and salaries for workers. However, Council administration, though money is important, goes beyond pay to provide quality service to our citizens.
Administration remains committed to the welfare of our workers and the sustainable development of the nation’s capital.