PSC, GCCI meet, raise objections with Parking Meter Negotiating team

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…suggests non-metered Pay and Display parking

Senior representatives from leading private sector organisations – the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) met on Tuesday, 23 May, 2017, with the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) Parking Meter Negotiating team.

At the onset of the meeting the M&CC Parking Meter Negotiating team, led by M&CC Councillor, Malcolm Ferreira, stated that they wanted to listen to the concerns of the private sector in order to objectively reach their own conclusions.

The private sector team, which was led by GCCI President Deodat Indar, outlined a realm of objections to the parking meter contract between the M&CC and Smart City Solutions Inc. (SCSI).

The private sector bodies stated that they are fully behind the M&CC in its efforts to develop and implement revenue generating initiatives.

Moreover, the private sector representatives added that while the issue of traffic congestion in the Central Business District of Georgetown must be addressed, there are a range of alternative and workable solutions to decrease traffic congestion, and, simultaneously, guarantee revenue.

The representatives of the private sector said in a released statement that parking meters should never be considered in isolation or as the only possible solution to address traffic congestion. The private sector bodies suggested non-metered Pay and Display parking as one of many viable options that would streamline traffic and ensure revenue for the M&CC.

The private sector bodies said they made it clear that they welcome constructive foreign investment and participation in the development of the country, but took strong aversion to exploitative and one-sided engagements.

They stated that in the absence of an invitation to tender for the parking meter project, it was not unreasonable to expect a foreign investor to pay a reasonable sum of money for the very valuable real estate space being utilized for their parking spaces.

However, the private sector bodies pointed out that what took place in Georgetown was a situation where SCSI was permitted to allocate themselves parking spaces, erect meters and start charging tax fatigued city dwellers.

The GCCI and PSC representatives said that based on the face of it, SCSI would no doubt be repatriating some, if not all of its profits overseas and this amounted to a situation where revenues earned from parking in Guyana’s capital city would lead to additional demands on the country’s valuable foreign exchange.

Directly addressing the issue of the contract between the M&CC and SCSI, GCCI President  Indar raised a number of issues that the private sector objects to.  These include but are not limited to:

  • lack of evidence of any economic/ social impact assessment done prior to the implementation of the agreement between M&CC and SCSI
  • the absence of any feasibility studies done on the project prior to its implementation
  • the blatant failures to adhere to the Public Procurement process – clear indications that the procurement regulations of both the M&CC and the Government of Guyana have been breached
  • no provisions made for concessionary parking for persons affected by disabilities
  • questions about SCSI’s record and experience of managing parking meter systems anywhere in the world before coming to Guyana, and of  the numerous operational issues that have emerged attesting to the inexperience and general disorganization of SCSI in implementing a Parking Meter system
  • VAT being charged on penalties imposed under the parking rules
  • the complete lack of transparency in the process
  • failure to demonstrate thorough and comprehensive consultation with the people of Guyana
  • failure by the M&CC to make public all Feasibility Studies conducted
  • failure by the M&CC to make public all reports and minutes  from stakeholders’ meetings held prior to the implementation of the parking meter project with SCSI
  • absence of any evidence to demonstrate that the tendering process used in the selection and award of the contract to SCSI was fair and transparent

Responding to M&CC Councillor, Carlyle Goring’s enquiry as to whether the private sector would consider dropping its demands for a complete revocation of the existing contract between the M&CC and SCSI, given the draconian and unaffordable (on the part of the M&CC) ‘terror clause’ in the existing contract, the private sector body stated strongly that it would not be complicit in supporting the continuation of a highly contentious contract that was signed amidst widespread public concerns about transparency and sovereignty.

The GCCI and PSC said the private sector supported the position of the Movement against Parking Meters (MAPM) and were repeating their call for an immediate and complete revocation of the existing contract between the M&CC and SCSI.

The meeting ended with the M&CC Parking Meter Negotiating Team thanking the private sector bodies for their contributions and promising to reengage them at a later date; before any final recommendations are made to the M&CC.

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