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Minister Parag blasts M&CC over city neglect, poor garbage collection

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“Central Government has never been responsible for garbage collection. That is the responsibility of the municipalities and the local democratic organs.”

This was clarified by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Sonia Parag, as she responded to “baseless criticisms” from some members of the APNU+AFC Opposition.

Earlier in the week, Opposition Member of Parliament, Coretta McDonald took to social media to highlight the gross garbage build-up in Albouystown, complaining that it was the government’s fault.

“This is absolute nonsense,” Minister Parag asserted. She continued, “Coretta McDonald is clearly a stranger to the Municipality Act, and she, like many of her colleagues, is speaking from a place of utter ignorance.”

Minister Parag clarified that government subventions are legally designated for municipal capital projects, and not for garbage collection.

“That is what rates and taxes are for, and those monies are collected and handled by the respective city councils and NDCs, not the government,” Parag noted.

She reminded that the Georgetown M&CC has not been financially audited for some 20 years, thereby lacking basic accountability for how the city’s revenues are being expended.

“We don’t know how much monies they collect and what they do with those monies, but it is clearly not being used to develop Georgetown and improve the lives of its residents,” Parag noted.

Notwithstanding this, the minister said the government has still been intervening to clean up the city and bring relief to residents.

“We most definitely have to intervene. We cannot allow people to suffer for weeks without garbage collection,” Minister Parag added.

Responding specifically to claims of neglect being meted out to Albouystown specifically, Minister Parag affirmed that “the truth speaks for itself.”

“We have rehabilitated most of the roads in that community. We turned what was an unsightly garbage dump at ‘Punt Trench’ dam into a spanking new boulevard which creates a beautiful space for recreation, and importantly, it significantly raises the value of that community,” Minister Parag informed.

She said that although continued national development speaks for itself, it is important for the record to be set straight.

“Members of the APNU+AFC often find it too comfortable to spew lies across various platforms, but sometimes it’s important that we set the record straight,” Minister Parag added.

During a media engagement on Wednesday, Mayor of Georgetown, Alfred Mentore and selected representatives of the city council sought to lay the blame for slothful garbage collection at the feet of government, claiming that this was being stymied due to hindered access to the Haags Bosch Landfill Site, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Local Government.

But as Minister Parag clarified, “this is absolutely untrue.”

The minister said matter-of-factly that the landfill site at Eccles, East Bank Demerara, has had a daily average intake of 140 truckloads of garbage for the longest while, with no complaints received or disruptions reported.

“And that has not changed, so I’m not sure what they are talking about,” Minister Parag said.

Further, she noted that although the Georgetown M&CC has several pro-government councillors, none of them are on the council’s Solid Waste Management Committee.

“These are all APNU+AFC councillors that have been responsible for cleaning up the city. They are the ones that have been putting this city at a disadvantage for all these years,” the minister noted.

She encouraged her opposition colleagues to educate and inform themselves before making ignorant public statements.

“If they (APNU+AFC members) criticise things that make sense, we will listen, but they can’t keep pushing their agendas with ignorance and untruths,” the minister asserted.

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