ONCE again, the Georgetown municipality has put forward a most uninspiring, unimaginative and impractical budget for 2021. This is not surprising as those presenting the estimates of income and expenditure represent a bygone era.
The first question to be asked is why the budget for this year is being prepared and presented in the middle of the year. What were they doing for the first half of the year? Living on borrowed, unregulated and non-budgeted funds. Of course, the pandemic will be used as a puerile excuse.
Quite disappointingly, the high points of this two and a half billion dollar budget were the proposed collection of a $100 fee per week per household for refuse collection and the downsizing of its staff. Whilst municipalities all across the globe are working to push the boundaries on what it means to become a modern city, the Council is patting itself on the back for planning to buy a few garbage trucks. Cities are using their forward-thinking and innovative efforts in technology, architecture, city planning, and social issues to become models of modernity; City Hall is instead waiting on handouts from central government and moaning when they don’t get it on time, or with the rapidity that they expect.
With Guyana on the cusp of economic transformation, with the discovery of large amounts of oil offshore Guyana, everyone (with the exception of the City Council) knows that they will see in the next five years an explosion of housing, construction and the foundation being laid for manufacturing and industrial development in and around Georgetown. The Council should be mindful of its own role as a partner in national development and fashion a stronger, more business and investor-friendly budget.
In terms of its proposal to downsize its staff, one can only hope that the ‘Fat Cats’ will be the first to go and not the poor sanitation workers, day care staff, security guards and janitors. Over the last six years, a tremendous amount of featherbedding was done with the creation of a lot of fancy positions with super salaries and huge allowances. These persons just attend a lot of meetings but hardly do any real work. The discrepancy between the number of productive employees and the indolent, bloated managerial staff is what needs to be addressed. As they say All Chiefs, not enough warriors.
And finally, someone at City Hall realises that it is more economically viable to carry out the garbage collection and disposal services themselves. This is however after literally throwing billions of dollars down the drain contracting out these services. It should be noted however up until the 1990s the Council had its own equipment to manage the garbage-collection and disposal service, incinerator and landfill sites.
It is time that Georgetown our capital city moves to the forefront of innovation, shiny skyscrapers are being incorporated into this old city. Georgetown needs to stride toward becoming a new, modern city with technological advancements, social progress, and modern Guyanese architecture.