Parking meter scandal…warns of aftermath if deal not rescindedLocal transparency watchdog Transparency International Guyana Inc (TIGI) has issued a scathing criticism of the People’s National Congress (PNC) officials, who have been exposed in the orchestration of the corrupt parking meter deal. TIGI also warned of the grave repercussions for future generations if the authorities refuse to heed the calls of civil society to terminate the contract, which it said has bequeathed the city streets and its people to Smart City Solutions (SCS).In a detailed missive released on Wednesday, the organisation called out Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase Green and Town Clerk Royston King for their lead role in the creation of a contract riddled with terror clauses and their subsequent attacks on those who have stood up against it.TIGI also recognised that other persons had a role to play in the disastrous negotiation, including Central Government which it lambasted for its initial laidback approach and failure to nip the project in its bud.PNC gangThe signatories of the parking meter contract are Chase Green; King; City Hall’s Finance Committee Chairman and PNC General Secretary, Oscar Clarke and Clarke’s predecessor and Councillor, Junior Garrett.TIGI noted, “The Mayor and Town Clerk are at the forefront of this onslaught, but have not monopolised this function.” The body expressed that the “lack of transparency in the handling of the deal is a telling blow to good governance and the repercussions will visit future generations if the deal is not rescinded”.TIGI pointed out that it was the ordinary man who would bear the burden of the poor governance and in this regard, condemned the Mayor as well as the Town Clerk for retaliating against the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM).The body noted that these attacks by the Mayor and Town Clerk, while in poor taste, are unfortunately consistent with the alternative reality that explains the actions of the top echelons of the City Council.“The MAPM has galvanised the people into action against sustained abuse and disregard. The Movement is based on the legal and governance issues of which the economic burden on citizens and the implementation maladies are merely symptomatic. The Movement is consistent with democratic principles and exemplifies free thinking that transcends social divides and political ideologies. This is predictably abhorred, opposed and denigrated by City Hall. The parking meters’ debacle and the civil action against the deal resulted from the poor governance of the M&CC,” the organisation explained.According to the body, “equally damning is the sustained vilification of those who dare to stand up, including some Councillors”.TIGI lamented that the collusion between City Hall and the contractor was such that boundaries have been obliterated as exemplified by a SCS Director (Ifa Cush) boldly, defiantly and repeatedly hurling derogatory remarks at citizens.The organisation noted that the Director’s attacks were as a result of the security and immunity the contract provided to the contractor.Central GovernmentTIGI also berated Central Government for its role in the development of this ordeal, which itself had recognised was not in the best interest of the population.“It is significant that Central Government, including the President, Cabinet and the responsible Minister, invoked a non-interference stance even while the people were unable to access needed information about the deal,” TIGI explained.Notably, Central Government had several opportunities where it could have prevented the deal from materialising, but yet failed to act accordingly.Beginning from the initial review of the contract by the Finance Ministry and Attorney General’s Chambers to the signing off of the by-laws by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, Government could have stopped the project from commencing.FlawsTIGI reiterated that the problems with the parking meter deal were a combination of lack of transparency and secrecy surrounding the contract, violation of procurement laws, alignment of interests of the M&CC and the contractor in the trip to Mexico and the inaction of Central Government, given the Finance Ministry’s review of the contract as “a telling blow to transparency, accountability and good governance”.The body noted that the laundry list can be expanded to include the implementation of penalties prior to ratification of the by-laws necessary to support such actions, the exorbitant penalties for parking infringements and SCS’s absolution from responsibility for vehicles they take possession of.In this regard, the transparency body lauded the efforts of those members of civil society as well as the contributions of the Councillors who stood up to defend the rights of the people even in the face of attacks by City Hall.“The people have a right to know what the city is doing and given the circumstances, we believe that you have done your job…We commend the public on taking up its duty to reject unilateral impositions of such dire consequences.”Further, TIGI encouraged citizens to always ensure their voices are heard, and to spare no effort to communicate their views to their leaders, within the law and the provisions of democracy.