Private sector seeking legal advice on container tax

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) is currently seeking legal advice on whether City Hall has the right to implement a $25,000 container tax which the city council is enforcing, even as it awaits a meeting to discuss the issue.

“We are seeking legal advice to determine the legality of their action,” President of the PSC Eddie Boyer told Stabroek News yesterday. He said too that they are awaiting a meeting sought with the council on the matter.

“You know we have written to them seeking a meeting. Well they have indicated to us that they would meet us, so we don’t want to pre-empt what will come out of that meeting. We will wait and meet but in the meantime we are seeking legal advice,” he added.

Although Town Clerk Royston King told Stabroek News on Wednesday that businesses unloading containers in the city are already being charged $25,000 for the privilege of using the collectively owned space that is the city parapets, Boyer said he was unaware of this.

Eddie Boyer
Eddie Boyer

According to Stabroek News reports, the “container tax” was first proposed by the council in December 1999 as one of several measures to improve the viability of the city by diversifying its revenue base. Despite repeated requests by the then council to meet with government to have these issues discussed and possibly implemented, a meeting was not held until December 2010.

Following a meeting involving then President Bharrat Jagdeo, then Chairman of the PSC Ramesh Dookhoo was reported as saying that the matter had been amicably resolved with a decision being reached to “shelve” the tax.

Yesterday, the PPP said the council should have engaged stakeholders before making a decision. “It was never agreed to before, at least not in the PPP’s time,” PPP Executive Gail Teixeira told a press conference.

She said while she believes that there should be charges for errant businesses that leave containers “for weeks and months on the roads,” government needs to be holistic in their approach in implementing measures that would affect the citizenry.

“The government does not have a handle on how to address these things,” she asserted.

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