Georgetown Mayor wants trade-off with GRA over millions of dollars in debt owed

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine

Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine wants to have millions in debts owed by the City Council to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) written off, in exchange for services which City Hall can provide to the tax revenue body.

While not revealing an exact figure, Mayor Narine confirmed that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council owes the GRA millions of dollars in taxes.

And while reiterating the current state of the city’s finances, that is, it is strapped for cash, the Georgetown Mayor expressed hopes that he can discuss with the GRA a trade-off arrangement.

According to the Mayor, GRA is currently utilising the city’s property at Lamaha Avenue for free.

He believes GRA can continue using it for free and in exchange, deduct monies owed by the City Council.

“The trainline on Lamaha Street, you know for a fact that GRA move their office there, I believe for the inspection of vehicles and before they had move there, they had used that area for a parking lot. GRA never paid this Council a dime.”

“Now, if GRA had call us for a meeting and say now; ‘look we’ll use this plot of land but let us know how we can be able to do a set-off, I know the Mayor and City Council owe us and we would like to give the City Council this opportunity since we’ll occupy this said property or said land’…let us come to a decision and see how we can be able to do a set off,” Mayor Narine argued.

“But you keep banging on the City Council to pay all of these monies that we owe to your agencies but you are not seeing to pay us the rightful revenue that you owe to us…where would the City Council get this kind of money from?” he added.

When asked, Mayor Narine said he believes the GRA was given permission to occupy the land by the Ministry of Public Works.

“What I have known, according to the asset register backdated since 1995/1996, the City Council had leased the Ministry of Public Works from Main Street to Camp Street, that portion there. I have seen that the current Minister, Minister Edgehill had claimed the entire reserve which I believe, he had given permission to GRA.”

“…if the Minister give approval, the right thing for GRA to do is to engage the Mayor and City Council as well, because any structure, according to the building codes or the building bylaws in the city, you ought to get an approve plot from the City Council, a process and procedure ought to be followed, I don’t know if GRA had done such,” Mayor Narine noted.

It is unclear if the Georgetown Mayor has formally written GRA to discuss this matter.

A report in late 2021 indicated that City Hall owes over $1B to GRA, the National Insurance Scheme, and the Guyana Water Incorporated.