By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
“This is a sweetheart deal; it is actually beyond a sweetheart deal,” said Opposition Member of Parliament, Gail Teixeira as she spoke about aspects of the Parking Meter contract signed between City Hall and Smart City Solutions.
The contract is yet to be made available. However, at a press conference yesterday, Teixeira read snippets of the contract that she was able to secure. She described the clauses as “ominous.”
Of all the clauses read by Teixeira, perhaps the most worrying is the one that speaks to compensation.
The contract states that if there is ever to be a case of the City’s unilateral termination of the contract, the City must pay a “penalty” equivalent to Smart City Solutions expenses and investments. Also, this will be multiplied by 50 per cent per year for the remaining time left under the concession. The contract is supposed to last for 20 years with an option for an additional 20 years.
Another clause highlighted by Teixeira was that the City will have to provide Smart City with Police ranks to be paid by Smart City. Teixeira said, “This is another red flag.”
There is also a provision for the sale of lands to Smart City for the purpose of constructing garages across the City.
On Monday, the Speaker of the National Assembly refused to allow the debate of a motion on the Parking Meter Project. That Motion was taken to the House by Opposition Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ali. It resolved to have the National Assembly call on the Auditor General of Guyana to “immediately conduct a forensic audit into the Georgetown Municipal Council including the Parking Meter Contract.”
The Speaker said that the matter was sub judice.
At yesterday’s press conference, Ali reiterated that the PPP is not in support of any attempts to have parking meters installed in the City.
He said that with the revised rate anyone who works in the vicinity of the areas where parking meters will be installed, will suffer badly.
He said that an employee who works eight hours a day will be made to pay $1,600 per day, $32,000 per month.
Ali said that such a cost cannot even compare to the increase given to public servants. He said that a 10 per cent increase on $100,000 is just $10,000. “That would be expended is no time.”
Ali described the parking meter cost as an indirect tax on the people of Guyana.
Speaking of the contact, Ali highlighted the fact that even the Cabinet said that the concession agreement is one of “unequal bargaining strength.” He said this as he read a letter sent by Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan to City Hall.
Ali told the media that there has been no justification for such a project in Guyana at this time especially considering the state of the economy.
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