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“No” to forensic audit of parking meter contract, “Yes” to wider probe of City Hall’s finances- Deputy Mayor

FLASH BACK: City Councillors vote in the majority for parking meters.

FLASH BACK: City Councillors vote in the majority for parking meters.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) wants Guyana’s Auditor General to conduct a forensic audit into the parking meter project, but Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan said that makes no sense.

Duncan said assessments of the parking meter contract by the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs were sufficient and there was no need for any further intervention by Central Government. “I don’t think the Auditor General is going to find anything different from what the Finance Ministry or the Legal Affairs Ministry has found,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. “We don’t need a second forensic audit to tell us what we already known about the contract, based on all the observations and recommendations by the Finance Ministry,” he said.

One of the recommendations was that the parking meter contract should be rescinded because it did not go out to public tender.

Instead, he only supports the idea of the Auditor General conducting a wider probe into the Georgetown City Council, adding that already he is backing the audit of the GYD$300 million clean-up exercise of the City. “I would support that. We have an audit of a specific project and that alone- it leaves much to be desired- all of the unauthorized spending and if we use that as a microcosm it tells us what obtains so definitely I would support  a thorough audit of City Hall’s financing,”  said Duncan who is from the Alliance For Change (AFC)

Sponsored by PPPC front-bencher, Irfaan Ali the motion is expected to be debated by the National Assembly on November 21, 2016. “Be it resolved that this National Assembly calls on the Auditor General of Guyana to immediately conduct a forensic audit into the Georgetown Municipal Council including the Parking Meter Contract,” the motion states .

The PPP noted that several unresolved questions still linger about the parking meter project including whether or not the municipality over public roads such as Regent Street, Water Street and Avenue of the Republic and legal issues that may be involved in granting police authority to a private company.

The Guyana Police Force’s Traffic Chief, Dion Moore has already said that the force has not been consulted about the installation of parking meters in the city and the demarcation of parking spaces on several streets for metered parking.

Noting that the Mayor and Town Clerk have entered into a contractual arrangement with Smart City Solutions for the installation of parking meters, Ali reminded that the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Communities and the Ministry of Legal Affairs have reviewed the parking meter contract and have found that the contract may have violated tender procedures,  that the contract is too much in favour of the parking meter party and that the cost is burdensome.

Ali says there has been no public consultation with national stakeholders or Georgetown citizens, residents and that although visitors to Georgetown have called for the project to be scrapped because the “financial hardships it will inflict upon the people,” the Mayor and some councillors in the face of the public opposition to this have been adamant that the project will proceed.

“The company contracted to implement the project has been proceeding full steam ahead with its implementation plan, with aggressive promotion, importation of equipment and the hiring of staff,” said Ali.

Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King have touted the parking meters as an expected major source of ready revenue to fund the cleansing, rehabilitation and maintenance of Georgetown.