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Transparency Institute condemns City Hall for going ahead with parking meter contract

The Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. (TIGI) has slammed the Mayor and City Council for forging ahead with the Parking Meter project despite deep-seated concerns about the apparent opaqueness of the transaction from the inception.

“That this project is allowed to continue in its current configuration in spite of a legal basis for enacting a new and transparent process, is a telling blow to transparency, accountability and good governance,” TIGI said.

TIGI also frowned on Mayor Patricia Chase-Green for ignoring concerns by a broad section of the citizenry and instead seeking to ram the project down the throats of those who have raised objections.

“There was no open tendering for the project and accompanying the handpicking of a contractor was the handpicking of councillors to conduct due diligence in Mexico,” the organisation said in a statement.

Among those raising objections to the parking meter project are the Private Sector Commission and its constituent Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

TIGI’s statement came hours after a decision by the Mayor and City Council on Monday to put a brake on the start of the parking meter project from September 1, 2016 until the city fathers and mothers consider the report and recommendations by central government.

Central government has said the the parking meter deal weighs heavily in favour of the investor and will be burdensome.

Following is the full text of TIGI’s statement.

Local government should empower citizens to determine their own path, but this necessitates a decision-making process that is characterised by transparency, full disclosure of relevant information, and responsiveness to the concerns of those whose lives and livelihoods would be affected. TIGI is of the view that the handling of the parking meter project by the Georgetown Municipality and its response to relevant queries exhibit a dearth of democratic principles and disdain for citizens that  would lead to a feeling of exclusion, and alienation from the decision making process. These failures serve as strong contradictions to the purpose of local government.

There was no open tendering for the project and accompanying the handpicking of a contractor was the handpicking of councillors to conduct due diligence in Mexico. This was perhaps necessary as it was a fool’s errand from the onset against the backdrop of an already signed contract, which positioned it in the interest of the mayor to find the firm suitable or even exceeding the requirements. This alignment of interest inevitably set the Mayor in defence mode; defending, the decision, defending the contractor, defending the idea of the project, instead of listening to the people and addressing their concerns. Added to this is the bewildering secrecy surrounding the contract when the contract itself should be with the people of Georgetown.

This manner of conducting business is entirely inappropriate as the decisions made will affect the lives of many Guyanese and will affect future generations. There must be transparency and accountability in the operations of local government and the views of the people must be respected. That this project is allowed to continue in its current configuration in spite of a legal basis for enacting a new and transparent process, is a telling blow to transparency, accountability and good governance. The people of Georgetown, their children, grandchildren and perhaps great-great-grandchildren have been bullied into a deal the details of which are yet unknown and which from all accounts, has not benefited from an assessment of feasibility or their input. It is the people that bear the burden of poor governance and it is up to them people to be vigilant and to use the democratic provisions to have their voices heard