PSC “increasingly concerned” over M&CC’s “bullying” posture

first_imgThe Private Sector Commission (PSC) has come out swinging at the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) over its sudden decision to implement container fees, much to the distress of local businesses.Earlier this week, the Town Council blocked containers from leaving several city wharves and business entrances, demanding that a $25,000 fee be paid for each loaded container traversing the city streets. These barricades, however, were removed from the roadways by Tuesday evening.In a statement released on Friday, the PSC said it is increasingly concerned at the approach of the M&CC to make such decisions to raise revenue, which negatively impacts on the business community and the citizens of Georgetown, without any public consultation and without due process within the law.M&CC officers blocking the roadway at Robb and Water Streets on Tuesday preventing container trucks from leaving the John Fernandes WharfAccording to the Commission, it fully recognises that the new Mayor, Patricia Chase Green, is facing significant challenges in restoring discipline that is essential to good order and sound administration.It went on to say too that it is cognisant of the city requiring sufficient revenue to be run efficiently; however, the Council should take an inclusive approach by engaging stakeholders in the decision-making process, which will serve the interest of all parties.“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 behaviour in the name of revenue collection.”The PSC further pointed out that it was only last month that the Council came under heavy criticisms for imposing the parking meter contract without due transparency and any public consultation. It was stated that the parking meter controversy is now followed by this container fee fiasco, which it labelled as “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, we invited the Town Clerk to a meeting with its Council and members of the Shipping Association to which he readily consented,” the statement outlined.Nevertheless, the PSC noted that meetings organised to discuss the new fees facilitated are frank, open and generally informative exchange of views on the matter. The Commission said it is looking forward to further discussions on the matter with the hope it results in a sensible and professional resolution reflecting the mutual interests of the business community, the citizens and the municipality.Meanwhile, President David Granger on his weekly television programme – The Public Interest – expressed the importance of consultations and implored that the M&CC have greater consultations especially with the people and businesses of Georgetown. The President reminded that decisions taken will not only affect people in the city but others countrywide, since Georgetown is the Capital City of the country.“I would urge the Mayor and City Council to embark on a consultative process. I will not interfere… but I am not interested in a conflictual situation, confronting the situation and in my view, consultations are the way to go,” the Head of State remarked during the programme which aired on Friday evening.About 12:00h on Tuesday, M&CC officials first barred the container trucks coming off the John Fernandes Limited Wharf and the Muneshwar’s Wharf, preventing container trucks from entering or leaving unless the $25,000 fee is paid.Terminal Operations Manager of the former shipping company, Jeremy Fernandes, related to Guyana Times that the fee was not being implemented against the shipping company, but against the consignee of each container. However, since it would be a difficult task for M&CC to contact the consignees, the municipality is demanding the fee from the company expecting that it would be reimbursed by the respective consignees.“They’re instituting a by-law where all laden trucks must pay a fee for the usage of the city streets and this is not implemented against the shipping company or shipping lines per se, but really and truly against the consignee of each container, but seeing that they can’t directly reach the consignee at this point in time, they’re instituting it against us and expecting us to claim that revenue back from the consignee,” Fernandes explained.Moreover, Deputy Town Clerk, Sherry Jerrick, had told media operatives that the City Council was merely invoking 273 and 274 of its by-law with respect to the use of its roads by vehicles of a “certain weight”.“The container is of a specific weight and it’s not just about parking or landing of the container, but it’s actually the container traversing the roadway,” she explained, noting that there were adequate provisions in the by-laws to prevent persons from driving certain vehicles along the roadway.However, the following day, the Council released a statement saying that the blockage of the city streets was just an assessment exercise to repair the roads.last_img read more