Local govt heads disagree on funding

Dr Allen Sammy - Jada Loutoo
Dr Allen Sammy - Jada Loutoo

THE heads of PNM- and UNC-controlled local government corporations expressed different views on Thursday from Dr Allen Sammy, Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) chairman.

Sammy said the PDRC had not received its subvention for the current financial year and its essential operations could soon grind to a halt.

He said the corporation received only 29 per cent of its requested funds to pay for goods and services for October 1-December 31, 2019 – $2.8 million out of a requested $9.8 million.

“This is a shortfall of $6.8 million, or 71 per cent, and this is in spite of repeated requests by management pointing out the negative impacts on people’s lives,” Sammy said.

He said the money received was spent on wages for short-term employment and this left a “paltry” $800,000 for other commitments.

Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC) chair Gowrie Roopnarine (UNC) was uncertain whether the PTRC had received its subvention for the financial year, saying he would have to verify this with the CEO and other officials at the corporation. He explained the releases to the corporation come on a monthly basis.

Roopnarine said so far the PTRC has been able to pay wages for its workers and for scavenging (garbage collection) with the funds at its disposal.

He also said the time when the PTRC receives funding affects the services it can provide to its burgesses.

Identifying the provision of water as one such service, Roopnarine said two of the PTRC's three water delivery trucks are out of service because the corporation has not been able to source the parts needed to repair them.

Chaguanas mayor Vandana Mohit said she will meet with corporation officials on Friday to ascertain whether or not the corporation received its subvention.

"We are trying as best we can to work with what we have," she said.

Mohit added that receiving subventions on time has been a challenge the CBC has been experiencing over the last three years.

Arima mayor Lisa Morris-Julien (PNM) said the release of subventions from central to local government has been an ongoing issue for many years.

But she said Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein and his staff at the ministry have been "extremely accessible" when it comes to the concerns raised by corporations. While she did not point to any particular concerns the Arima Borough Corporation is experiencing, Morris-Julien opined that once local government reform is implemented, corporations will be able to better raise funding to provide services for their burgesses.

Local government reform legislation is currently before a parliamentary joint select committee.

San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation chairman Anthony Roberts (PNM) said, "You have to manage your stuff."

Roberts said whenever the releases come, corporations have to use their resources wisely and keep the country's current economic circumstances in mind. He added that all corporations never get all they request.

Hosein assured all corporations, "The releases will come."

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"Local govt heads disagree on funding"

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