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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Georgetown Solid Waste Management Programme

Hits: 3437 | Published Date: 14 Mar, 2013
| Speech delivered at: 39th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Joseph Hamilton, MP

Mr. Hamilton: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. Let me just state for the public record that sometime between 1994 and 1997, like you, I served on the Mayor and City Council as a Councilor.    [Mrs. Backer: As a member of the PNC?]      As a member of the GGG; correction. If we look at the Be It Further Resolve clause (ii) 2 it states:
“That the Government establishes a committee consisting of Members of Parliament, Officials of the Georgetown City Council , Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, and Ministry of Transport and Hydraulics…”
The point is whilst the motion and the thought brought here by Hon. Member Volda Lawrence is commendable, the issue of dealing with the City Council and the City is not as simple as she portrays it. The question to be asked is what will be the role of the Mayor and his Councilors. Does the Hon. Member have a mandate from the Council? Is the Council desirous of the intervention that we are attempting to put in place? Was the Council asked whether they would welcome such an intervention? Because we know from time to time that the Mayor has had cause to say that he has problems with intervention from external sources in the running of the Council. Therefore, whilst we can yap about it in some quarters in the National Assembly, the fact is what role will the Mayor and his Councilors play? Do they want such an intervention? That question should be asked because the exercise will be wasted if we pass a motion here to establish a committee and the Council which has the mandate to run the city, as indicated by the mover of the motion, takes the position that the intervention is not warranted, they do not welcome the intervention. So it is an important question to ask yourself before you seek to ask us to support the motion. Whilst, as I said, it is commendable, all of us want the city to be clean; it is not as simple as passing a motion and putting some ad hoc committee together. The issue is how do you sustain beyond the grand clean up? What is the role of the City Council after this motion and the grand clean up? What happens after that? What happens after the three months of the Parliament and whoever is looking at the clean up? The other issue is that Members on the Opposition side would want us to debate this motion without speaking to the deficiencies of the present Council. We cannot do that. You cannot debate the motion and suggest that I be restricted from paying attention to the people who have the mandate. Mr. Speaker, when the Hon. Minister got up to speak the Hon. Member Harmon spoke about the Burrowes Commission Report. This report is April 2009 and just for the public record I want to make some references to the Report. [Interruption] That is why I am saying you cannot talk about the motion unless you are paying attention to the issues that exist at the City Council. On page 230 of this Report the heading is “Governance”. This is what the Commissioner says:
“The Commission of Inquiry highlighted that there was a serious issue of how the City Council accounted for its moneys.”
That is the point that the Minister was making. What will be the role of the City Council during the period? What will the City Council do during the period with the moneys it is collecting?
Page 232 spoke to the fundamental issue the City Council is yet to address. The City Council some years ago hired a consultant, Sandra Jones and Associates, to advise them about downsizing and restructuring. They paid millions of dollars to the Consultant and are yet to act on that Report. Listen to what the Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, now deceased, said about that matter on page 232:
“The Deputy Mayor pointed out that the wage bill in 2009 was 53% of the total budget with 434 existing vacancies. If the vacancies were to be filled the wage bill will be increased to 70% of the total budget.”
Anyone who runs a business knows that if your wage bill is 70% of what you are garnering, that is a dead business. Therefore, the issue of restructuring the City Council is an outstanding issue, for a decade that the City Council itself paid a consultant to address that is yet to be addressed. The Minister spoke to the issue. You do no roads…    [Mr. Ramjattan: What is the Government ratio?]     When you get up to speak you can speak about the issue of the Government ratio. I am speaking about the Burrowes Report about the City Council’s ratio. We are discussion the City Council. The City Council asked a consultant to advise them on how they reorganise and they accepted the report from the consultant saying they have to re-organise and downsize, take out all the manual labour. The Deputy Mayor went on to say:
“It is expected that reorganization will be completed to employ some persons and when necessary transfer employees interdepartmentally.”
He said a point to note- the now deceased Deputy Mayor Robert Williams - was that employees were promoted to supervisory level who were known idlers. I am allowing the Burrowes Report to speak for the public record. We cannot discuss, as I said, the motion to restore the City and seek to extricate the people who, as the mover of the motion says, have a mandate to run the city. That is the principle discussion when we are moving on and if we want to move on. The Hon. Hamilton Green, Mayor of Georgetown, is commenting here on page 253 in discussion with the Commission:
“The Major sated under his stewardship that the Council was very conscious of the inaction by the officers in carrying out their operations. Over time, the Council sought to have reports of consultants Sandra Jones and Lynch Associates limited implemented which cost millions of dollars.”
[Interruption] Yes, it will get us somewhere. You cannot move on to discuss, Mr. Ramjattan, establishing a committee without looking at the deficiencies and inefficiencies you will face. You cannot. If you do not understand how the Council operates or do not operate you would not be able to participate in restoring the city. That is the issue.
“In the former council, no one wanted change and it was maintain status quo.
This is the Mayor. He said”
“For example there was liaison with the communities, agencies and arms of the  municipality.”
I am putting this on public record as we debate so we can understand what we are dealing with before we move off.   [Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: Page what?]     Page 255 of the said Report Councilor Junior Garret, member of APNU/PNC speaking…  [Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: A good man.]   A very good man. Councilor Garret said that it was the first time in 28 years of private practice that he has seen the level of lack of financial management as was evident in the operations of the City Council.
Page 291 of the Report, the Commissioner said the bigger issue was governance and it was necessary that a change agent/manager be utilised following the recommendations of the Report.
These reports and recommendations were 2009 recommendations. As we debate Hon. Member Lawrence’s motion this evening, the City Council is worse off than it was in 2009 as regards governance and management. So we cannot discuss forming a committee and we are not discussing what role the City Council, the people who have the mandate as Hon Member Volda Lawrence said, will play? The question to ask is would the committee during the process be able to participate and oversee the issues of expenditure within the Council? If you are asking the committee and giving them responsibilities at the same time you have to give them the authority to pay attention to the source of funding within the municipality. Where would the moneys come from? I note that is very silent. The question is would the committee utilise City Council resources or do we have to go somewhere and bring a supplementary paper for resources to be utilised to do this. We have to answer that question.   [Mr. Ramjattan: NICIL and Lotto.]   Well, then you should put it in the motion so we will know where the money will come from. That is the issue as I said.
Hon. Member Ferguson spoke to the issue with garbage and that is the problem we have that is why we are not getting a handle on the issue of garbage. The issue is not garbage; the issue is solid waste management. Garbage is only symptomatic of no policy of managing solid waste. You can go out tomorrow and clean up all the garbage, but I would say to you one fortnight after you will have all the garbage back out there and we will have to have another committee. That is not the issue. The issue is how we manage solid waste. What programme and policy do we have to manage solid waste? Garbage is just part o the issue. The Council should have been at the stage… and we spoke to it. These matters are not new. Hon. Speaker you remember since 1974 we spoke to the issue of solid waste management.   [Mrs. Backer: 1974?]    Since 1994. By now we should have had wards where there was separation of garbage and that is not rocket science. If the City Council wanted to do those things they had the capacity, they had the money to do it. I am saying that the City Council some 17 years ago discussed the issue of solid waste management via separation of garbage and it was to start as a pilot in wards. As we speak, 17 years after, the City Council is yet to implement to see if that can work, if it will work. So we can set up this committee. We can bring all the equipment as asked…    [Mr. Ramjattan: I know about the bill?]   What is being asked of the Hon. Member is not new. That was done in this City several times. Several times in this City…   [Mrs. Backer:  So why are you objecting now?]        I am not objecting. You have to listen and learn. I have not objected to anything as yet. You never listen so you do not learn anything.  We have done many times in the last 20 years in the city what the motion is seeking to do. The Government and the private sector mobilised resources – backhoes, tractors, trailers, and trucks – and have cleaned this town as regards moving garbage and days after there was the same situation because concomitant with the cleaning up we are not putting in place a solid waste management programme to start teaching our people to separate waste- degradable from biodegradable waste.   [Mr. Nagamootoo: Where is the draft Bill?]    Mr. Speaker, you do not have to wait on a Bill to do what is right. I do not know the City Council has to wait on a Bill. I am saying 17 years ago whilst I served as a Councilor, the issue of separation of garbage was discussed. It was to be implemented before we had the problem. Before the Haggs Bosch land fill site, we should have already been at the stage of separation of garbage. The citizens of Georgetown, that has to be piloted by the municipality. Check every country and every city that has enacted that operation; it was piloted by the councils. [Interruption] The Council here is in charge of their own taxes. According to Mr. Burrowes the Council is in charge of a $2.5 billion economy. [Interruption] There is no division. I am saying you cannot discuss the motion and lay the City Council aside. That is the mistake. You have to discuss what we have at present. I am saying what we have at present is a City Council that is inefficient and deficient. We have to put that in the framework as we discuss the motion.   [Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: He did not even read the motion.]    I read the motion.
The Minister spoke to one issue. Mr. Burrowes touched on the issue of the business where you have your employment cost outstripping…  [Mrs. Backer: It is not a business.]   That is the problem. The Deputy Mayor does not recognise that the Council is a business and maybe Mr. Hamilton Green does not understand it is a business. That is the reason why they are running into the ground. The City Council, any council you are running whether it is a public or private company it is a business you are running.  [Mrs. Backer: Education is a business too.]   Yes, it is. So it is a $2.5 billion business and nothing is happening as regards that.
As I said when I started the motion is commendable and seeking to attempt to highlight the problem, but I am saying if we simplify it we will miss the boat. That is what I am attempting to do, to say that this is not as simple as saying, take some people together, form a committee and go and clean the city. It is not as simple as that. You have to engage firstly the Council as to whether the Council wants such an intervention. You have to ask the Council that question and I do not know we have asked them.
Mr. Speaker the other issue is, as I said, there are some amendments that were tabled under the hand of the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment. We hope in the consideration of the motion and for us seeking to fashion a way to deal with the issue that faces the City because all of us want a clean city. I do not know anyone who does not want a clean city, but we must not simplify the remedy. We must take everything into consideration as we seek to find a remedy to clean our City up and how to sustain it. What are the concomitant things we have to do? As I said, if we focus on garbage we will miss the boat totally. We have to focus on how we manage solid waste. That will help us in the process we are attempting to do.
Thank you very much [Applause]

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Designation: Parliamentary Secretary, Minister in the Ministry of Health
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