The Private Sector Commission (PSC) believes that the impending implementation of the controversial parking meters will have severe effects on people working in the city.
An official within the PSC stated that the charge commuters will have to pay will place tremendous strain on the average man working in the city, since some of them do not earn enough to support that sort of service.
It was highlighted that neither the Council nor the Government should compare Guyana to other international countries that have installed the systems in their cities.
“You can’t compare Guyana with international countries and say let’s implement parking meters… in some of those countries people can’t afford to drive to work so they use underground transportation,” the official stated.
Although the parking meter project came under fire from all ends, the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC) is moving ahead with its implementation, with the first phase set to be completed in December.
Not only will private citizens be forced to pay the charge, they will have to endure paying Value Added Tax (VAT) on it until the City can have it removed. The implementation process would be divided into two phases – the first phase of the parking meter project will occupy 3237 parking spaces in Georgetown, utilising 157 parking meters.
These machines will be positioned close to all the commercial hubs in Georgetown. The meters, intended to regulated traffic, will be situated along Quamina Street, Water Street, Hadfield Street, Camp Street, Church Street, North Road, Robb Street, Regent Street, Charlotte Street, South Road, Croal Street, Brickdam, Avenue of the Republic, Wellington Street and King Street.
According to the PSC official, the meters will also reduce business activity in the commercial hubs in Georgetown.
“We have a concern that this parking meter will have a severe effect on persons working in the city as well it would reduce the level of activity for the business community,” the official stated, adding that the PSC believes that there are different ways at gaining revenue. According to the PSC official, the parking meter contract reeks of a lack of transparency and is an iron fist on the people noting that is ludicrous that the Council would only receive 20 per cent of the revenue garnered. So far concerns mounting over the criteria used for the selection of the streets which will be equipped with parking meters, since it registers as a discriminatory move as some patrons will be mandated to pay for parking while others will not.
The parliamentary Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had strongly criticised the imposition of this extra financial expense on the public, especially in light of the fact that there were absolutely no consultations on the matter beforehand.
Despite the flaws highlighted in the contract, Government discovered nothing illegal and gave the green light for the commencement of the project once certain recommendations were implemented. This included a reduced fee for parking, which was eventually changed in the contract. PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall had stated that the Opposition completely rejected the installment of parking meters around Georgetown on the basis of the current economic state.
He argued that the Government’s over concentration on taxing people was the wrong focus since it would only hurt the economy.
“Whilst they continue to pile taxes on our people, the production sectors are declining, our people are earning less, their disposable income reducing, no new jobs created, no new investment, every day people are losing jobs,” he said, referring to the dismissal of employees at Barama and the Guyana Sugar Corporation.
PPP/C MP Irfaan Ali had moved a motion to debate the parking meter project on the grounds that there were no public consultations, stakeholders have pleaded with the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to revise the initiative, and the contract may have violated tender procedures.
The PPP/C has called on the Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma to conduct a forensic audit into the Georgetown Municipal Council, including the parking meter contract. (Reprinted: Guyana Times)