SMART City Solutions (SCS) is disappointed and surprised at a self-serving and wholly uninformed press release and a series of privately-paid-for advertisements emanating from the Private Sector Commission on the subject of metered parking for Georgetown.
Smart City Solutions has made every effort to engage the Private Sector Commission in the interest of transparency. Smart City Solutions met with the Chairman and a number of members of the PSC Executive in August, and informed them of the Company’s background and experience and its plan for implementation of the parking meter project.
We offered to present a comprehensive brief on the project to the full Council of the Commission. On 2nd September, SCS wrote the Chairman of the Commission, requesting a meeting with the Council “to present a full brief on the project and respond to any questions or concerns which the business community may have with regard to the implementation of the project.”
On 13th September, SCS was invited to meet the Council on 20th September, but only the Vice Chairman, Executive Director and one member turned up for the meeting, evincing little or no interest on the part of the Commission. Nevertheless, SCS made its presentation and responded to all the questions asked. It is less than honest for the PSC to now claim that there is “secrecy surrounding the project” and ask “what really are the details of the contract?”
Interestingly, at the first meeting with the PSC, SCS was asked if the company would be interested in partnering with local investors, questioning the current motives of the Commission in attacking the project at the point of implementation. As the Mayor of Georgetown has pointed out, the proposal to introduce a metered parking system in our city is not a new proposal, came before the Council since 1995, and was accepted by both the previous and present councils.
It is a project which has been given extensive review by the City’s Town Clerk, Treasurer and Engineer. It is nonsense for the PSC to describe the project as “shrouded in secrecy.” In fact, the City Council entered into an agreement with National Parking Systems (NPS) late in 2015 for a parking meter project for Georgetown. This company sought the extensive experience, financial resources and skills of an international consortium which has pioneered metered parking in Mexico, Panama and in Peru.
As a result, the consortium established a special purpose company, Smart City Solutions Inc., to take over the project and enter into an expanded contract with the City Council involving a projected investment of some US$10M.
The PSC asks why the City Council could not itself manage the project. The fact is that the City Council did not, and does not, have the financial resources nor the experience and skills to procure, install, manage and operate a highly specialized, capital intensive, high risk metered parking system such as the traffic intensity in Georgetown demands.
It is irresponsible and disingenuous for the PSC to suggest that it does. The City, in fact, did not have the resources even to finance a feasibility study for the project.
The fact is that Smart City Solutions committed its own capital and resources to conduct a feasibility study, and its findings have formed the basis for the contract entered into with the City Council and the company’s design of the project. The contract with the City Council, as it is well known, was shared with the Government and reviewed by the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General’s Office. At the time of these reviews, the critical terms and conditions of the contract were based on the general assessment of the parking project, and the rates proposed, though consistent with international norms, were identified at the maximum limit; and indeed, this was recognised by the Attorney General’s review.
As a result, the terms of the contract were generously amended to substantially increase the consideration paid to the city from 20% of gross revenues before profit, if any, to 25% and then to 30% over the life of the contract.
The Private Sector’s advertisements misleadingly imply that the revenues received by the city are net, that is, after profit of the total revenues. These terms may be compared with similar parking meter concessions operational worldwide and are fair and reasonable. The revenue remaining to the company must first cover the full installation costs, the full operating costs of the system, the mobile security and enforcement costs, promotion and public awareness costs, amortization of the entire investment costs and administrative costs before any profit is realised.
The Company bears the full investment risk of the project. The City of Georgetown benefits, free of cost, from the appreciable revenue and the citizens of Georgetown benefit from the resolution of an increasingly chaotic traffic condition escaping thousands of wasted hours, wasted gasoline and wasted time searching for parking and from the significant security imposed by the policing of the project.
Further amendments reduced the parking tariff by some 60%, reduced accumulated charges for fines and booting by 73%, and reduced fees for towing by 67% and storage by 30%. All of these amendments were ratified by an overwhelming majority of the City Council.
All of the critical details of the contract are already in the public domain and have been widely published. On 4th November the Town Clerk, Mr. Royston King and Managing Director of Business Development of Smart City Solutions, Mr. Amir Oren, hosted a Press Breakfast which was widely attended by the media and subsequently broadcast by a number of television stations. All the questions regarding the project were openly and frankly answered. There is nothing secretive about the project.
The Private Sector Commission has accused the City Council and, by inference, Smart City Solutions, of “impropriety” claiming that the contract for the project “has a ‘status’ of bypassing national procurement legislation and procedures.” This is simply not true and is unfounded. The fact is that the National Procurement Act does not apply to the Mayor & City Council as a procuring entity which is governed under the Municipal and District Council Act. The M&DC Act does not address the issue of procurement with regard to the services being provided by Smart City Solutions.
It is unfortunate that the PSC should leap to public judgment before properly informing itself, and accuse the Mayor& City Council, to say nothing of a foreign private sector investor, of impropriety. The PSC advertisements make almost all of the ill-informed allegations that the PPP/C has raised, and which have already been extensively and directly answered in advertisements in all of the media.
SMART CITY SOLUTIONS (SCS)