Guyana:  What took the Georgetown City Hall so long? – Commentary

City Hall – Georgetown

Apr 15, 2019 – Kaieteur News – Editorial

It is a good step to identify not only who; but how much and how long. For this is a large part of what has crippled fulfillment of the obligations of municipal government.

The whole dreary, enraging delinquent picture should highlight the disdain of those who capitalize on a lucrative presence in the city, and who persist in ways designed to decapitate it. Nothing can be free for so long; a sweet free ride it has been.

Long and costly delays; Decline of services; Resistance to new measures. All about how much to cheat. How much can be squeezed out of a system long lax, long negligent, and long colluding and corrupt.   

Nothing should be ignored or condoned for so long. This raises questions as to the cabal of municipal cronies with oversight, but who allowed matters to meander and linger to this near irrecoverable point. But that solves nothing for the long-run health and state of the capital.

As a sign of good faith, the remedial of a fiscal olive branch should be extended: conversation; fractional forgiveness; repayment plan; time lines; strict adherence. No extensions; no exemptions. And if those do not bring results, then plan for what follows.

An escalating series of actions must be set in motion: court action, non-renewal of licenses and permits. If the little fellows, struggling vendors, can be targeted and addressed, then the big ones have had their day (more like their era) and they, too, have to operate according to the conditions associated with being a compliant and satisfactory commercial citizen. Only fair and right.

Separately, citizens have to decide if they will continue to carry the unfair load and allow others to get a free ride. In a vibrant, balanced society determined to discover and maintain quality of life through a quality environment, some considerations should appeal to the besieged: citizens awareness and campaigns, boycotts, picketing.

The draining business tyrannies have to be challenged; shaken up and made to comply with the tax regimes that apply. Not paying has become the standard, the mode of operation and way of life. Amidst huge shortfalls and failing at the basics, time to take back what is legally due.

For every million not paid, there is the equivalent of efforts that have to be delayed or outright discontinued. And the absence of that same million-dollar inflow means more than that amount in lost goodwill, new copycats, and community malaise. Multiply by many millions and there is the haunting of a dilapidated city, community disfigurements, and resident disgust, if not rage.

A capital scorned and avoided: providing many shabby examples as to what is best described as eye witnesses to the eye-pass that agitate civility and temperateness. Again, the old vulgar story of the few holding the many to ransom. This is too pronounced, too blatant to be left alone for a single day longer.

Collection and accountability means being able to do more for residents who pay their dues, and for the restoration of the city itself. The vision has to be beyond restoring, and towards projecting of a place that is welcoming and embracing and uplifting. Foreigners poised on the thresholds of time and opportunity must not be shunted and helicoptered away from the urban blight that currently is Georgetown.

Rather, the vision has to be for them to stop and sample; to be seduced and sold on wanting to come again. Business tourism, it is called; would make for a enriching complement to the ecotourism potential now internationally recognized.

Leaders and decision-makers in this country have to start thinking big: dreaming big visions and then making tangible through the unveiling of big plans. That, as powered by the grave necessity of circumstances, must include going after the big defaulters and bringing them in line with requirements.

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