PPP/C says parking meters are an indirect tax

-restates opposition

The Parliamentary opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) views the implementation of parking meters in the city as an indirect tax and as an added burden to the consumers.

At its weekly press conference at Freedom House on Tuesday, Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ali said that his party is “not in support of the parking meter contract under the circumstances that there was no study pointing to the economic viability, no public consultation or no concern for what residents or businesses and the general secrecy that surrounds the project.”

An estimated 400 parking meters are expected to be installed along selected streets in the central business district of the capital city of Georgetown.

He questioned how they could have a “75 percent lease and 80 percent revenue on an investment when they (City Council) were carrying most of the operating cost.”

Ali also wanted to know the value for the physical space and infrastructure that this company would be utilizing in the city, the rent, cost for security personnel, and who would be responsible for paying for them and for the electricity consumption.

He said the at the present rate of $50 for 15 minutes that is being discussed, “parking for eight hours would be about $1,600 and for five days would be $8,000 and for the month, would be $32,000.”

He said while the government is giving a five or 10 percent increase to public servants on a small salary, they have to bear the burden of the parking meter.

He pointed out that up to now there is no information about what the City Council’s investment would be.

He said too that the opposition was not just concerned about the issues of transparency and accountability in relation to the contract but whether the people would be able to pay. “It is our view that there is no justification for such a project in our economy at this time, that there is no proper analysis in relation to the ability to pay for such a service,” Ali said. “This project would disrupt business activities across the country. There are many other alternatives you can use… that would have directed the issues of parking…”

He also mentioned that the parking fees that workers from some ministries “have to pay for five days would suck up a five month salary increase.”

According to him, ministers or the Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Green would not suffer because they would park in the compound.

Ali charged too that residents who go to the City Council for services and have to line up would end up paying the same amount of money to park.

He called on the City Council to point him to any city in the Caricom region that has implemented parking meters.

Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira said the contract for the parking meters is a “sweetheart deal” as it has not been revealed.

She said Bisram Kuppen, PPP/C city councillor, had related that the councillors cannot have a copy of the contract.

They are only allowed to go to a room and read it with a constable standing over them and that “although amendments were made, no councillor had the original contract to make amendments so they were given the truncated form of amendment.”

She shared some “snippets,” of the contract, which is expected to last for 20 years with the possibility of an additional 20 years” and described the clauses as “ominous.”

Teixeira stated that “in the case of the City’s unilateral termination of the concession, the City must pay a penalty equivalent to the concessioner’s expenses/investments multiplied by 50 percent per year for the remaining time left under the concession.”