Parking meter burden: Govt has no plans after contract suspension expires

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… project will be revived after dust settles – PPP

Having suspended for three months, the by-laws governing the parking meter contract between Smart City Solutions Inc. (SCSI) and City Hall, Government does not, at this time, have a clear plan regarding what to expect after that time has expired.

The Movement Against Parking Meters which has since suspended their protests pending the outcome of Govt’s review are adamant that the contract should be revoked.

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan, earlier this week informed the City Council that Government had suspended the by-laws of the contract and suggested that a three-month period be allowed for further negotiation and consultation. That suspension came just a few days after the Council had failed to even consider Cabinet’s recommendation to suspend the original contract.

But as the three-month negotiation period proceeds, Minister Harmon has said there are currently no plans to address the issue when that time has expired.

“Government wishes to give full support to a process of negotiation and consultation which will result in a favourable outcome. That is to say, (between) the Council and Smart City Solutions (SCS), along with stakeholders and citizens, (as) are all “ad idem” to the contract and the project”.

Harmon said that while Government has not taken a position on what happens after the three months’ suspension have expired, it is hoped that good sense will prevail and that there will be a favourable outcome.

Asked about the legality of suspending the by-laws, Harmon told the media that the Minister of Communities acted on the advice of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams. He said Government was satisfied that the law provides for the suspension of the by-laws, as against suspending the council. However, he could not show where in the constitution provides for this right, and he suggested that the Minister of Legal Affairs be contacted for further clarification and answers in this regard.

“But I am satisfied that the Minister acted within the purview of the law, and that (the) advice of the Attorney General was correct”, Harmon told reporters.

At his media briefing on Thursday, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said it was not known what will happen tomorrow, because of the incompetence and ineptitude of this Government. “The reason given by this Government is that we did not have enough information, and so Cabinet now has decided to suspend the parking meter project for three months because we did not have enough information”, Jagdeo said at his media brief on Thursday.

He said the “vital information is basically the absence of public tendering,” since the parking meter was negotiated between the Council and SCSI. According to Jagdeo, the issue was in the public domain for over ten months, and he finds it strange that Government was unaware of this.

“Secondly, did they know about the terms of the contract? Yes, they did; because they took the original contract and sent it to the Ministry of Finance… So they knew it was a contract that did not go through public tendering (because they had the original contract eight months ago, when they sent it to the Ministry of Finance for review).

According to Jagdeo, Government is projecting itself as now intervening to bring relief to citizens, when in fact Government was a part of the problem from the inception. “They are just reversing for a short while, and then, once the protest dies away, this contract will re-emerge in a different way; but people will still have to pay,” Jagdeo posited.

He said that once again Guyanese have been caught with the “lies and incompetence of the Government.” (Guyana Times)

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