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Private Sector Commission agrees City Hall needs money but “confrontational and unlawful”

Even as the Private Sector Commission (PSC) prepares for another round of talks on efforts to impose a container tax, that business organisation has roasted City Hall for operating and taking “illegal action” without consulting the very people it expects to pay more taxes.

“The Commission wishes, however, to remind the Council that the business sector and residents of the city are its means of revenue and that partnership and  consultation is infinitely preferable to confrontation and unlawful behavior in the name of revenue collection,” the PSC said in a statement.

City Police  earlier this week erected barricades near a number of private wharves and Council administrative officials demanded GYD$25,000 per container before they could have left.

Friday, Demerara Waves observed that containers were being allowed to leave and enter Muneshwer’s and John Fernandes wharves unimpeded.

The Shipping Association of Guyana (SAG) has since withdrawn legal action for further talks.

The PSC acknowledged that the Mayor and City Councillors have made “visible” progress in restoring order to Georgetown and agreed that the Municipality needs enough cash to run the affairs of Georgetown.

Following is the full text of the PSC’s statement following a meeting of representatives of the PSC, SAG and Town Clerk, Royston King.

The Private Sector Commission is increasingly concerned at the manifest approach of the Mayor and City Council to making decisions with regard to the administration of the municipality and, in particular, the raising of revenue, which negatively impact on the business community and the citizens of Georgetown , in isolation from public consultation and  without due process within the law.

On Tuesday last (19th July, 2016), the Town Clerk directed his officers and the Constabulary to barricade the entrances of a number of shipping wharfs preventing the movement of vehicles transporting containers on the city streets.  It appears that this show of force was with the express intention of enforcing a decision of the Council to impose a G$25000 fee on the consignees of cargo being transported in containers. 

The PSC, only last month, had reason to express the sector’s concern over the controversy which has arisen over the M&CC’s attempt to impose a contract to install parking meters without due transparency and public consultation. Now we have this nonsense.

The PSC, on being alerted to what can only be described as official harassment of members of the business community to bully them into paying a fee which, according to the legal advice obtained by the Commission, is unlawful, immediately, late on Wednesday, invited the Town Clerk to a meeting with its Council and members of the Shipping Association to which he readily consented.

The meeting facilitated a frank, open and generally informative exchange of views on the matter. The PSC looks forward to further discussion on the matter, hopefully, resulting in a sensible and professional resolution reflecting the mutual interests of the business community, the citizens and the Municipality.

The PSC fully recognizes that the recently elected Mayor and City Councilors face a significant challenge in restoring  the discipline essential to the  good order and sound administration of our capital city and are to be credited with the visible progress made in a relatively short time . The Commission also recognizes that the city requires sufficient revenue to be run efficiently.

The Commission wishes, however, to remind the Council that the business sector and residents of the city are its means of revenue and that partnership and  consultation is infinitely preferable to confrontation and unlawful behavior in the name of revenue collection .