AG to brief Cabinet on city parking meter contract

Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams has completed a review of the parking meter contract and would be briefing the Cabinet when it meets on Tuesday.

This disclosure was made by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman at a post-Cabinet press briefing, which was held last Thursday. “…The Attorney General has completed his review and will make his report at the next Cabinet meeting,” Trotman informed.

Since its announcement, the parking meter project has been shrouded in controversy.

Given the many concerns surrounding the issue, government ordered a review of the contract by the Minister of Finance and the AG. The Minister of Finance has completed his review.

Mayor Patricia Chase-Green said that the previous council, in November last year, entered into an agreement with National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions (NPS/SCS) for the installation of meters.

Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King made a decision not to make public or share the contract with the other councillors out of fear that the opportunity for the foreign direct investment would be stolen from the city.

“We took a deliberate decision not to share the contract because we wanted to secure the investment. We have had bad experiences with sharing contracts, proposals and initiatives only to have them suddenly taken away from the council,” Chase-Green had said, while adding that the contract was a “private document” of the city administration.

The series of concerns raised about the parking meters deal include that the lack of a competitive procurement process, the absence of details on the bona fides of NPS/SCS and the secrecy surrounding the deal, including a visit to Mexico by a delegation comprising the Mayor, Town Clerk and councillors Oscar Clarke and Junior Garrett.

The Mayor, who had led the team to Mexico in order to look at parking meters there, had said that she was very satisfied that the contractor, NPS, can provide a product which will be beneficial to the people of Georgetown.

However, Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan has publicly stated, “…All the processes leading to and emanating from this contentious contract have been weighed and found wanting.”

Chase-Green, despite the concerns, recently announced that the city will be going ahead with the parking meters project, which is expected to come on stream from September 1.

Democracy at work

Aside from the controversial parking meter deal, other issues have arisen, including the city’s implementation of a contentious container fee.

Asked about the developments at City Hall, Trotman said “I think what we are seeing is democracy at work…After many years of no local government elections, you are going to find that there is confusion…All of this, from the way I see it as a former city councilor myself, is part of the process of the council finding itself and its identity.”

Trotman told reporters that government is looking on. He said that government sees “all of this as development for local democracy and it is like the birthing of any process. It is never going to be in a textbook fashion.

It is never going to be static. It is going to be, in fact, quite exciting,” he said.

He added that government would, where necessary, give guidance. “We are not going to intervene and instruct and take over the process. It has to be allowed to flourish,” he stressed.

He informed too that the  Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan is to bring a paper to Cabinet which will deal with the facilities given to the members of the councils throughout the country.

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