As found in my recent travels around Guyana earlier this month and last month, in conversations with people as well as obtained in my NACTA opinion survey (with 402 respondents representing the demographics of the population), there is very little support for the parking meter programme; and for VAT on private education, health services, parking meter charges; and on fees paid for usage of water and electricity.
People are very disenchanted with these and other policies of the coalition regime, which they feel have led to a worsening standard of living. And they are very disappointed with what they describe as the arrogance of officials of the central government and the Georgetown City Council. People say that Government officials are not listening to their cries and protests against policies that are hurting them.
Only a small percentage (18) of people (primarily Government supporters) support the VAT on fees paid for private education. Almost no one (four per cent) supports VAT on water and electricity charges, except for industrial use by large businesses. Government also finds very little support (14 per cent) for VAT on charges paid for private health service.
People disagree with the Government’s position that if people can afford to pay for private education and private health services, then they can afford the VAT.
With regard to parking meters, people residing far away from Georgetown show very little interest on the matter.
They feel they are not affected by parking meters, and have shown little interest on the issue. Those (closer to, or working in the city) impacted by parking meters are almost totally opposed to it. Some Government supporters fully back the parking meter programme. Needless to say, opponents of parking meters are also against VAT on parking meter charges. Businesses in Georgetown say their revenues have declined between 40 per cent and 60 per cent since the introduction of parking meters.
This, they say, has forced the laying off of staff, or to rotational work days, to avoid laying off workers. The interactions with people took place before the suspension of the meters by the central government last week.