By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Georgetown City Hall in Guyana is again making headlines, with an independent investigation launched into allegations of corruption, fraud and nepotism that have piled up against two officials, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, the “Iron Lady” at City Hall, and town clerk Royston King, who the locals refer to as “King”. They are from the ruling party in office and have become an embarrassment and liability for the government, which will face general elections in 2020.
Allegations range from rape of a minor, illegal selling of city properties, building luxury houses for City Hall officials, a dodgy parking meter deal with a Mexican company, and denials and delays in approving business permits and expansions.
City Hall itself has decayed, and GYD70 million out of the Georgetown restoration fund is missing. All of this amidst Guyana’s capital city being visited by high level officials from across the world, and most of this attention is due to big oil discoveries offshore Guyana.
An independent investigation against City Hall has finally commenced. According to the Auditor General’s Office, City Hall hasn’t accounted for GYD70.48 million of a total of $500 million allocated to it by central government for the restoration of Georgetown in 2015 and 2016 according the Guyana Stabroek News.
It was revealed on Friday that the mayor and city council hasn’t been audited for 2016, 2017 and 2018. This is according to the internal auditor for City Hall, Omodele Umoja-Newton, who testified at the commission of inquiry into the mayor and city council.
Just two weeks ago, a commission of inquiry (COI) was approved to investigate the allegations of corruption against City Hall. The investigation moved fast because City Hall is now accused of stealing workers’ money.
“Workers have been paying their contributions to their credit unions and it has not been remitted… there is a failure to remit their PAYE contributions. There is also a failure to remit their NIS (National Insurance Scheme) contributions,” Andrew Garnett, deputy chairman of the LGC, told the media.
Garnett confirmed that town clerk Royston King was forced to take “administrative leave” effective last Friday, pending the outcome of the COI, which commenced public hearings on September 24 to October 31.
“King’s governance of the municipality has come under intense scrutiny, partly due to poor garbage collection, late payment of staff, and failure to pay overstated salary deductions of social security and income tax to the National Insurance Scheme and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA),” Garnett said.
“As well, the scandal of transferring properties into residential communities for senior members of the council are also among the numerous complaints filed against City Hall,” Garnett told the media.
The government has condemned some of City Hall’s actions, but it had been rocked by scandals and corruption during the previous regime, which was in power for over two decades and presided over the decay of one of Georgetown’s iconic monuments. However, locals are clear, the Case-Green/King corruption scandals are of historical proportions and blatant.
Two years ago, Chase-Green and King were accused of covering up the rape of a minor by a lance corporal who was accused of having sex with a detained male juvenile at City Hall
Kaieteur News claimed that the accused “enjoys the protection of senior officials”. The lance corporal has since lost his job and is facing trial.
Citizens led protests in front of City Hall and argued that King and Green should be considered accessories to the crime since they aided in the “cover up”.
In 2017, Green and King secretly few to Mexico and signed a “corrupt parking contract”. The government intervened and told them to scrap it. However, the mayor is defiant and is apparently looking for a confrontation with the government.
October 8, 2018