Even as the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has announced that it will allow the Metered Parking Committee until the end of July to conclude negotiations with the parking meter company Smart City Solutions (SCS), a well-placed George-town Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) source has told Stabroek Business that should the issue of the implementation of parking meters in the city surface again “in its present form” it will continue to face “stiff and aggressive objection” from much of the business community.
The source told this newspaper that while he was not directly involved in the recent meeting between the private sector business support organizations – the Private Sector Commission and the GCCI – and the city’s Parking Meters Negotiat-ing Team, he believed the outcome of the meeting had sent a clear signal that “paid parking meters in its present form would not see the light of day with the Georgetown business community. It’s dead in the water as far as the business community is concerned.”
Recently, the private sector group that met with the M&CC officials on the parking meters issue published a statement documenting what, up until now, has been its most robust objection to parking meters.
The GCCI source told this newspaper that what was significant about the posture of the private sector in its recent statement was what appeared to be “the veracity of the contract itself,” apart from the “logistical concerns over parking meters” that have already been expressed by the business community. In its release after meeting with the M&CC delegation, the private sector team described the agreement between M&CC and SCS as exploitative and one-sided. Noting that the conditions of a fair contract ought to require that “a foreign investor pay a reasonable sum of money” for the real estate being utilized for parking spaces, the release said that “what took place in Georgetown was a situation where SCS were permitted to allocate themselves parking spaces, erect meters and start charging tax-fatigued city dwellers.” It added that “on the face of it, SCS would no doubt be repatriating some, if not all of its profits overseas,” a circumstance that would lead to “additional demands on the country’s valuable foreign exchange.”
The private sector source said it should be noted that the country’s two leading business support bodies had now moved to “a radical position” in expressing support for “the position of the Movement against Parking Meters (MAPM)” and restating the position on “an immediate and complete revocation of the existing contract between the M&CC and SCS.”
City Mayor Patricia Chase-Green has been directly in the firing line over what the private sector release said was the complete lack of transparency in the process, failure on the party of City Hall to demonstrate “thorough and comprehensive consultation with the people of Guyana,” failure by the M&CC to make public feasibility studies and reports and minutes from stakeholders’ meetings held prior to the implementation of the parking meter project and the absence of evidence to demonstrate that the tender process used in the selection and award of the contract to SCS was fair and transparent.