A $24 million subvention from the Ministry of Communities was voted by city councillors yesterday to be used for the rehabilitation of the East Ruimveldt Market.
The money is in addition to the $200 million allocated in the national budget for the Mayor and City Council (M&CC). Council-lors voted 13 in favour of the proposal to use the funds on the marketplace, while seven voted against, and one councillor abstained from the vote.
The vote saw the council taking a decision against the recommendation of the ministry, which had suggested that $15 million be put toward the upgrade of the East Ruimveldt market.
During yesterday’s statutory meeting, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green read correspondence from the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, which was reportedly a response to a letter sent by the M&CC following a meeting they had last week, when Councillors discussed how the $200 million allocated in the budget would be utilized.
According to the statement read by Chase-Green, it was recommended by the ministry that the $75 million that was planned by the M&CC to be used toward community enhancement programmes be reduced to $65 million; that $50 million be allotted to infrastructural development, which includes conclusion of phase 1 of the Kitty market; that $70 million be set aside for “institutional strengthening” and the purchase of two garbage trucks; and that $15 million be put toward the upgrade of the East Ruimveldt market.
But councillors stated that they would have sat for hours last week discussing how the $200 million would be spent and they were adamant that they should stick to the decision they had made.
“We are not children to be directed,” councillor Noelle Chow-Chee said of the letter, but was assured by the Mayor that it was not and could not be a directive as the M&CC is an autonomous body.
The vote on whether the council should proceed with the decisions they made at their meeting on December 7th was unanimous.
Those who voted against how the $24 million should be used shared the view that all the monies need not be allotted to the East Ruimveldt market. Councillors pointed to the need for rehabilitative works at the Albouystown and the La Penitence markets. It was also questioned on what criteria the East Ruimveldt market had qualified to receive the subvention.
Chase-Green, though emphasizing that all markets would get attention, noted that East La Penitence in particular needed work. Though the market had reportedly been taken into consideration during last week’s discussions, it appears that no specific sum was planned for its upgrade.
Chase-Green noted that the engineer’s department, along with the markets committee, has to partner to make the decision on the way forward before the City can receive the subvention. But councillor Welton Clarke, who had abstained from voting, opined that the engineer’s projections should have been presented to the Council first before money was allotted toward the project.