MAHATMA Gandhi once said, ‘There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need, but not for man’s greed.’ This was the thought that came immediately to mind when I read the releases through the local newspapers that the Georgetown municipality was pressuring the Private Sector Commission (PSC) to agree to a fixed fee for the unloading of shipping containers in the city.
One has to remember that there is no law, ordinance, statute, regulation or charter that obligates the shipping companies nor the receiver of containerised goods to pay the City Council a single cent. If they wish to impose a container tax, then they have to go to Parliament to amend the archaic colonial laws that govern the Council on such matters, particularly for imports that enter Guyana at privately operated wharves.
All that has happened was that one day some rapacious municipal official had an epiphany that here was another way that the Council could impose on the already overtaxed citizenry, another burdensome and unjust levy, so that they can fill their pockets even more.
It was merely out of the goodness of the hearts of the PSC particularly the shipping companies that they offered to give them Five Thousand Dollars per container. It seems as though the Council has mistaken this kindness for weakness that they could further exploit.
To imagine that the Council has capriciously earned $57 million in 2016 since the decision by the PSC to help them out in August of that year, earned another $183 million in 2017, and over $40 million for 2018 so far, of free money and yet hungering for more is just simply mind-boggling.
This $280 million-dollar container windfall the Council should be grateful for, instead of being usurious and demanding five times that amount. They will not earn a fraction of that through their notorious parking meter scheme, nor from their other unscrupulous programmes.
The Council sounds like the famous story of the life of a hustler named Joe, who wakes up every morning broke, hustles as much as US$10,000 during the day and then loses most of it by the time he goes to bed.