Nationalism must always take precedence over self-interest

Dear Editor,
The recent announcement by the Georgetown Mayor and City Council of the implementation/installation of parking meters in certain sections of the city has been met with consternation, outrage and dismay by citizens who are already burdened with additional taxes and the constant enforceability of rules and regulations that have significantly weakened their daily income.
In his www.conversationtree blog, former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, charged that:
“Coming so soon after the elections, the decision to install parking meters was clearly on APNU/AFC’s agenda prior to the elections. During the elections, APNU/AFC contestants had ample opportunity to inform the residents of Georgetown that parking meters were on the agenda but they kept this plot a secret for obvious reasons.”
Democratic principles, respect and empathy for the public dictate that stakeholders should have been consulted before such a position was taken. Apparently, it appears as though City Hall has adopted the diktat position and unilaterally exercised its right to impose systems, which only places additional financial burden on citizens.
Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan, who has voiced his non-support of the project, went on record to state that he has been provided with little information by the contracting firm, National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions from which he can make a quality judgment.
The lack of verifiable information on the contracting firm itself raises eyebrows. There is no website for any company named National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions and one prominent media house published an article, which stated that a visit to the Manhattan address was met with consternation by the building’s officials, who were emphatic that no space to rented to any such company nor were there future requests from the said company.
Furthermore, Duncan said, in his independent research on Simon Moshevilli, who represents Smart City Solutions, he has found no one with said name connected with the said company. In fact, he said there is no evidence that such a company even exists.
“Again, the total lack of verifiable information on the company and its capacity to execute the scope of the project and the absence of a contract on the proposed project I cannot offer my support and reaffirm my grave reservation of such a venture.”
And for this, Deputy Mayor Duncan must be lauded for the unbiased, professional and independent stance he has publicly taken.
What is the rationale behind charging vehicle owners 0 to park in streets that are located in the prime business hub of the city?
Can you imagine a vehicle owner who has a mortgage, loan and other domestic expenses having to pay 00 per day to park outside his/her place of work for the normal eight-hour work day?
And what about the much-touted tourism drive? Tourists who stay at city hotels will be forced to pay exorbitant sums to not only rent a vehicle, but also to park outside the hotel (if parking is not provided within the compound of the said hotel).
City Hall has also not provided any solid, detailed and well-researched supporting documentation/plan as to how the proposed project will ease the traffic congestion in the city. On the contrary, this project, in all likelihood, will see a reduced number of persons using their vehicles to go to work and/or conduct business in the city.
The resultant domino effect will be evident sooner rather than later.
The Mayor and her Councillors seem at a loss to identify the discrepancy between creating new revenue collection ventures and identifying the factors that have influenced the current poor collection of revenue. Instead of trying to craft solutions that will remedy the issue of huge sums owed in rates and taxes, they have sought to wantonly implement sophisticated systems that seek to stifle the small man. The removal of the Stabroek Market vendors is one such contentious issue.
Again, no consultations were held with those vendors before their forced removal. Their bitter outrage at being treated like second class citizens has fallen on deaf ears.
We are a small nation of less than one million people. With a rapidly declining economy and an economic crises being experienced by nations the world over, do we need such sophisticated tax and other systems that are wantonly imposed on our citizens without the benefit of consideration of the burden it will place on their already weak income base?
The dogma that the proposed parking meter system will ease the traffic congestion in the city also lacks authenticity since no feasibility studies have been conducted to prove how effective this would be. And the fact the contracting company seems to be a dummy corporation also point fingers at another ‘get rich quick scheme.’
Or are we witnessing a case of nepotism and/or cronyism in full play?
The officials at City Hall’s propensity to continuously devise schemes to increase their revenue base reeks of greed and self-interest. Their high handed governance techniques woefully lack the great confidence and vision the electorate placed in them when they voted during the recent Local Government elections.
Stand up and take a bow Mr Duncan. The professionalism you displayed in the execution of your duties is commendable.
Government officials, regardless of rank, if they are committed to the development of a nation, must always adopt and practice this principled, democratic stance. Nationalism must always take precedence over self-interests.

Vanita Mahadeo