City, private sector agree to co-operate on outstanding rates

Following a meeting on Wednesday, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) have agreed to co-operate on several issues including the payment of outstanding rates by members of the business community.

“The parties discussed the issue of defaulting businesses…It was agreed that PSC once provided a list of those businesses, will seek to assist in remedying this situation,” a joint statement issued yesterday explained.

The meeting came in the aftermath of sharp words from Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine over delinquent businesses and a statement from the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressing displeasure at his remarks

Also discussed was the resuscitation of the Tripartite Committee comprising of the Ministry of Communities, the PSC and the M&CC which was conceptualized by President David Granger and first established in 2016.

The committee which is expected to address the container fees and other issues in the city, last met in July 2018 but according to the statement the two parties “committed to strengthen cooperation through the Tripartite Committee so as to enhance the wellbeing of the citizens and businesses in the capital city.”

The municipality had introduced container fees as a mean to increase its revenue base in August, 2016. The imposed fee which was highly controversial and attracted criticism was initially set at $25,000 per container. It was later reduced to $5,000 on an interim basis.

So far this measure has proven to be rather lucrative for the council which earned $57 million in 2016, $183 million in 2017, over $40 million in the first half of 2018 as well as $8,440,000 for January and February of 2019.

At Wednesday’s meeting it was decided that the assistance of the Shipping Association of Guyana will be sought to collect the fee.

According to the statement attention was also drawn to the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste on parapets and other City thoroughfares.

“Grave concerns were voiced about environmental degradation and the need for the businesses that are delinquent to be sanctioned. As a result, the Council and the commission agreed to have a joint walk about in the City to address this concern,” it explains adding that the commission also supported the idea of a Municipal Court to facilitate the timely resolution of issues requiring judicial settlement.

In attendance were Mayor Narine, Chairman of the Finance Committee Oscar Clarke, Town Clerk(ag) Sharon Harry-Munroe, City Engineer Colvern Venture and Director Of Solid Waste Management Walter Narine.

Representing the PSC  were Chairman Desmond Sears, Secretary  Komal Singh, Chairman of the Security & Governance Committee Gerald Gouveia, Corporate Coordinator of Manniram Prashad, Chairman of the Infrastructure Subcommittee Major General Ret’d Norman McLean, Council Member Patricia Helwig and Acting Director Devon Seeram.

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