June 27, 2017

Govt buckles to pressure to reduce “burdensome” parking meter fees

President David Ganger has ordered that the parking meter fees be lowered following a meeting late Wednesday evening with city officials.

Communities Minister, Ronald Bullkan

Communities Minister,
Ronald Bullkan

President David Granger

President David Granger

Guyana Times International was told on Wednesday evening that Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan was expected to meet with the Mayor and City Council and Smart City Solutions (SCS) to iron out the details for the lowering of the rates.
Hundreds of persons turned out again  on Thursday calling for the scrapping of the project.
On Wednesday, widespread criticism continued against the highly controversial Parking Meter Project and Attorney General Basil Williams said that he believes that the current rates being charged for parking in the Capital City was over “saddling” the working class and called for it to be furthered reduced.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Williams reminded that since his initial review of the parking meter contract, he recommended that the fees for paid parking be lowered but lamented that even the adjusted rates are too burdensome.
“I recommended that there is nothing unlawful but what they had to do was rework the figures, but even so, the reworking seems to be saddling the ordinary working class person, and I suppose they will have to have a look at that again,” he stated.
The Attorney General added that, “G$50 for 15 minutes and G$1600 a day and the workers work five days, so you multiply the $G1600 by five; I don’t think their salaries can accommodate that.”
While maintaining that he has no authority to call upon the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) or the parking meter company – Smart City Solution (SCS) – to change their rates, the Attorney General said he will be meeting with a delegation to discuss the pricing structure in light of the public outcry.
The Attorney General told media operatives that the By-laws were completely vetted and approved before Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan signed them. He explained that Minister Harmon was out of the country at the time and therefore was uninformed when he made the announcement.
Last Thursday, the Minister of State told media operatives at a post-Cabinet press briefing that “in as much as it is signed off by Minister of Communities, (the By-laws) still have to go through the process of the Attorney General vetting it and checking to ensure that it is consistent with the laws of Guyana and that the rules, which require certain levels of fairness, are all embedded in those By-laws.”
On the other hand, the public outcry against the paid parking system continues as more authorities begin to crumble to the pressure of citizens and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Opposition.
In fact, the Alliance For Change (AFC) arm of the coalition Government called for the suspension of the project. Despite refusing to support the parliamentary Opposition when it brought a motion to debate the contentious Parking Meter Project in the National Assembly, the AFC came out expressing concerns over the Georgetown Municipality overreaching its authority on a number of matters, including taxation arrangements, traffic arrangements and road ownership.
It also expressed concerns that the current arrangements do not appear to be in the best interest of the people of the city and that the handling of the project from its inception to its current stage lacks sufficient prior public consultation; is absent of transparency and of a competitive bidding process; and lacks of proper planning with regard to exemptions and the pricing and penalty structures.
Commenting briefly on the AFC position, Williams said the party is allowed to have its independent thoughts on any matter of national concern.
However, while its governing partner has made its concerns public, the A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) is yet to pronounce on the issue. Moreover, Government as a whole has not taken a stance on the issue and appeared unmoved by the public’s plights.
Marked as a unique moment in Guyana’s history, a mass protest by disgruntled taxpayers was conducted on Friday last against the Parking Meter Project. Many have already complained of the injustices meted out against them from employees of the parking meter company.