October 1, 2016

The need for a forensic audit at City Hall

Dear Editor,

The Georgetown City Council’s sloth in carrying out a forensic audit of the municipality, which it keeps promising to do, is quite worrying and should be to the citizenry of Georgetown and the nation as a whole, particularly those who will be exercising their rights shortly at the upcoming Local Government Elections.

The need for a forensic audit there has never been greater and must be the first order of business of the new Council with the findings being made public, which will undoubtedly identify many instances in which that entity has violated the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act of Guyana.

If one were to examine just for a start, the tax collecting system, it will be clearly shown that there have been many instances of dishonesty, deficiency, and discrepancies, many of which were never reported to the Police and consequently the people of Georgetown do not know the truth about the financial operations, mismanagement and excesses that are taking place at City Hall.

For the period of September 1-30 last year, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) offered property owners in the city an amnesty on the interest accumulated on property rates owed to the Council.

This offer was to allow residential property owners a 100 per cent amnesty on the interest of the rates they owed to the Council, whilst commercial and corporate property owners were offered a 50 per cent to 75 per cent amnesty, dependent on special circumstances.

This never happened, instead commercial and corporate property owners when they visited City Hall to pursue this offer were directed upstairs to the Council Chamber where they were interviewed not by a committee but by one Councillor who capriciously awarded them discounts many times up to a full 100 per cent in contravention of the arrangement for which the maximum was to be 75 per cent, costing the Council tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue

But far worse than that, these corrupt Councillors have continued to bestow waivers of interest to their friends long after the amnesty period concluded on November 30, 2015, which was an extension by two months of the original September 30 deadline. Indeed up to this month persons have been arbitrarily granted tax waivers something persons in the Tax Collecting Section and the City Treasury know to be completely wrong and which results in the city losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The new Council needs to see to it that charges are laid in relation to deception, acts of fraud, misfeasance of public office, and political corruption.

 

Sincerely,

Riley Matthews

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