Penalties suspended until next week – Harmon

first_imgParking meter burden… adjusted fee will not ease burden on citizens – JagdeoThe controversial Parking Meter Project has been partially suspended until next week when a new fee structure will be announced. This is according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who announced on Friday that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) agreed to suspend the punitive aspect of the project to pave the way for wider consultations with all stakeholders on the Parking Meter Project. “The City Council has taken certain steps; one of the first steps they have taken was to basically suspend the punitive aspects of the paid parking project… they indicated that it is going to be suspended and they will engage with stakeholders to see how best the programme can be adjusted,” he explained.According to Harmon, this decision was arrived at following the engagement with members of Central Government, Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, and Town Clerk Royston King, on Wednesday evening at State House.He said the City Council is now charged with the mandate to have consultations with the public and then arrive at a solution satisfying to all parties involved.“What we want is an outcome that is acceptable to both sides,” the Minister of State stated.Minister Harmon explained that it is not in the interest of Central Government to intervene in the business of the City Council, but it became necessary in this situation because of the strategic importance of Georgetown.Fee adjustmentKit Nascimento, the Smart City Solutions (SCS) Public Relations Officer, explained to Guyana Times that the current fee structure will be adjusted, following an emergency meeting with President David Granger, which came on the heels of immense public outcry and two mass protests outside City Hall.“The company and the M&CC have agreed that there would be a new rate structure that will be put forward in respect of the metered parking project,” he stated.Nascimento said the announcement of the new structure will be made sometime next week and until then, there will be a suspension of the project.“…until such time as the new rate structure is announced, there will be a moratorium in respect of immobilisation enforcement activities,” he explained.This means the clamping of vehicles and charging of fines will not be enforced until the announcement is made.The adjustments would also include changes in the fines for the various violations.Nascimento also disclosed that in addition to changes in the fee structure, there will be changes in the overall project.Presently, motorists are required to pay $50 plus Value Added Tax (VAT) at 14 per cent for every 15 minutes. However, many consumers have complained that the company is charging VAT at 16 per cent.Additionally, the prepaid cards were structured in such a way that monies are wasted with every purchase.A parking meter card for the maximum parking time of two hours costs $580, but the value of the card is only $500. Parking for two hours at the rate of $15 plus VAT for every 15 minutes, it will amount to $464. Therefore, the balance will be $36, which cannot be used to pay for the minimum parking time, nor can it be transferred. The $36 will be wasted and the same pattern persists with any of the cards purchased.Additionally, if an individual fails to pay for parking in a metered zone, his/her vehicle will be clamped and they will have up to two hours to pay a release fine of $8000 plus VAT. If the individual attempts to remove the clamp, a fine of $100,000 will be charged, or the person could spend up to three months in prison.After two hours of being immobilised, the vehicle would be towed and this would attract a fee of $12,000.But if the individual’s vehicle is damaged in that process, the parking meter company’s staff would not be liable, nor will the individual be compensated.ScrappingMeanwhile, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in a statement on Friday insisted that a reduction of the rates will be merely palliative and does not address the transparency issues, nor does it ease the burden on citizens who are already overwhelmed with excessive increases in almost “200 new taxes, fees and VATable items” in less than two years of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.Jagdeo also noted that the “duplicitous positions and complicit role” of Granger’s Government on this matter.“They started out by disowning the project, claiming local government autonomy, but Minister Bulkan has signed By-laws into effect. The Government sought to mislead and deceive Guyanese by claiming Cabinet and the Attorney General had not approved the By-laws. If that is true, then the President should sanction Minister Bulkan. However, there is grave suspicion about this being a concoction to obfuscate the matter. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Parking Meter Project could not have been implemented without the signing of those By-laws,” he stated.The Opposition Leader said another “duplicitous action” is when President Granger convened a meeting to persuade the M&CC to reduce the parking meter rates, having claimed earlier he was not interfering in local government matters.“From all indications, the Granger Government supported this project from its inception and throughout, while the APNU/AFC-dominated Georgetown Mayor and City Council was emboldened by the support,” Jagdeo stated.In light of the foregoing, the Opposition Leader said he remains supportive of the civil society protest, and that nothing short of scrapping the Parking Meter Project will suffice.last_img read more

Energy being overlooked as election issue says former Parliamentary Secretary

first_imgHe starts with a reminder that the petroleum industry has a history of being the countries’ largest revenue generator, and the fact that it is now only worth half of what it was at this time last year, spells difficulty for the economy, consumers, and government revenues. That noted he reiterates, a much better effort must be made to make sure the industry product gets to global markets.He argues we must do more to ensure, “That we take advantage of what is now an obvious no-brainer, which I talked about some 15 to 17 years ago. When you keep shutting down refineries and relying on other people to provide you with higher value added products you’re ultimately going to pay of it. So we’re losing our economic vitality on crude’s demise, but we’re also at the same time not being able to take advantage of these massive, I would say unprecedented, gasoline margins.”He also contends that, “Right now a good refiner in Canada can make up to 30 cents a litre, and that certainly warrants and should get the attention of the investment community, to get back to the idea of processing our oil into higher value added, and clean gasoline. I think that should be top drawer politics, and public policy statements.”Finally, Mr. McTeague said, “We all want clean energy and we all want to head down the road of new technologies surrounding environmental questions, but those could be done hand in hand, and you shouldn’t be willing to ignore the golden goose—which tends to be the petroleum industry as a whole.Advertisement One of the countries’ leading energy consultants, who was also a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Liberal Government of Paul Martin, is concerned that energy will not be a high profile issue in the current federal election campaign. Dan McTeague says there’s a lot going on right now and several big issues, including energy, are not being addressed.He adds it’s unfortunate that not more attention is being focussed on building pipelines and getting product to market, as well as, where possible, improving our ability to process our bitumen into high value added gasoline, not just for the world, but for ourselves as well.That noted, he was asked for his thoughts on the Insights West online survey last month, which showed both the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline projects, proposed for northern and southern BC respectively, are still opposed by slim majorities in this province.- Advertisement -Mr. MacTeague says, he’s really not surprised but cautions, “Pipelines are not new in Canada and for generations we’ve relied on pipelines to provide us with an abundance of cheap natural gas, oil, and other petroleum products. So while we might want to focus on events where we’ve had unfortunate spills, the alternative of simply allowing other nations to provide energy for us is a recipe for disaster.”He adds, “I don’t understand how we would not want to make those kinds of investments to get Canadian products to world markets, instead of navel gazing and saying, well you know we can all just live happily by other means. The idea of renewables is emerging, but we’re not there yet, and there’s no sense in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We can all be good international boy scouts, but at the end of the day we have to be mindful that these investments also produce things that are very positive for our society.”Mr. McTeague, who sat in the Commons for nearly two decades as an Ontario MP, was also asked what energy policy advice he’d give to the campaigning party leaders to properly address what is now a more than year old crude oil pricing problem.Advertisementlast_img read more

EPA Steps Up Enforcement of Lead Paint Rule

first_imgThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is targeting the New Haven, Connecticut, area for tougher enforcement of rules designed to protect children from the hazards of lead in paint.Some 200 renovators and painting contractors, property management companies, and landlords in the area were invited by the EPA to a meeting on April 16, 2014, to learn more about the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, part of the Toxic Substances Act.The rule took effect in 2010. It requires training and certification for renovators who work in pre-1978 housing and facilities used or occupied by children, where they are likely to encounter lead-based paint. The EPA says New Haven has one of the highest rates of childhood lead exposure in New England.In addition to scheduling the informational session, the EPA said it would follow up by inspecting a number of the companies in June. “The inspections may be followed up with enforcement,” the agency said in a news release.At the New Haven meeting, the EPA said it also would introduce what it called an “expedited settlement offer” for a single violation of the RRR rule. No details were offered, and the EPA’s regional press contact wasn’t available to explain it. The Journal of Light Construction, however, said it probably would be similar to settlements made under an earlier pilot program in which contractors agreed to reduced penalties for minor violations of the rule.The EPA’s tougher stance in New Haven follows earlier crackdowns in the Northeast in 2012, and another involving 35 home renovation contractors this February.last_img read more

BJP MLA held for Ahmednagar murders

first_imgPune: The Ahmednagar police on Monday arrested Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Shivaji Kardile in connection with the murders of Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Kotkar and Vasant Thube on Saturday.However, Mr. Kardile, MLA from Ahmednagar’s Rahuri constituency, denied his arrest and said he “voluntarily gave himself up” at the Bhingar police station this morning.A press note issued by the Ahmednagar police on Sunday had declared that the BJP MLA, along with 53 others connected to the crime and vandalism at the Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police’s office, was absconding.On Sunday, the police booked Mr. Kardile, along with NCP MLC Arun Jagtap (Sangram Jagtap’s father) and 30 others for allegedly hatching a conspiracy and executing the killings. ‘Allegations false’The BJP MLA refuted all allegations against him. “The police are investigating the crime and the culprits will be brought to justice. I have no relation with it. Since Saturday, the opposition [read Shiv Sena] is besmirching some members of my family and me by linking our names with the murders. Seeing this, I voluntary decided to appear before the police and cooperate with the probe,” Mr. Kardile told a local television channel.The second high-profile arrest in the case comes a day after Mr. Kardile’s son-in-law, National Congress Party (NCP) legislator Sangram Jagtap, and four others were taken into police custody in connection with the murders.Mr. Jagtap was taken into police custody in the wee hours of Sunday. Congress candidate Vishal Kotkar, who won the Kedgaon bypoll to the Ahmednagar civic body; his father Balasaheb Kotkar; Sandeep Gunjal and Bhanudas Kotkar were also booked for their alleged roles in the double murder.Soon after Mr. Jagtap was arrested, Mr. Kardile, along with a mob of over 200 persons allegedly vandalised the office of the Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar. However, Mr. Kardile denied allegations, stating that events had been “misinterpreted”. “After Sangram [Jagtap] was arrested, a mob had gathered at the SP’s office. I was returning from a function and decided to stop en route and pacify the mob. I urged the crowd to show restraint,” he said, adding he was ready to face any inquiry. The aftermath of the Kedgaon bypoll coupled with years of political rivalry are said to be the broad reasons for the murders of the two Sena leaders, who were first shot at and then attacked with sharp weapons.The murders have led to the suspension of police inspector Abhay Parmar of Ahmednagar’s Kotwali police station Minister of State for Home, Deepak Kesarkar. He has been replaced by PI Ramesh Ratnaparkhi.Mr. Parmar’s suspension was prompted by Shiv Sena’s allegations about the allegedly controversial role of the police authorities in Kedgaon in the crime.All three families — the Kardiles, the Jagtaps and the Kotkars — are related to each other by marriage and virtually dominate Ahmednagar politics, especially at the taluka and civic body levels.Both Mr. Kardile and Congress leader Bhanudas Kotkar have a history of crime, their names figuring prominently in the murder of lottery-ticket businessman Ashok Lande in 2008. The incident has snowballed into a political slug-fest, with the Sena and the NCP trading charges.On Sunday, senior Shiv Sena leader and Minister Ramdas Kadam, alleged that the murders were “a premeditated conspiracy by the BJP, Congress and NCP”. Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, retaliated by accusing the Sena of attempting to tarnish his party’s reputation by fabricating charges.last_img read more

Can the BMW 1-Series M Performance Edition stand out in the luxury hatchback segment?

first_imgBMW 1-Series M PerformanceTaking competition in the luxury hatchback segment to a new level, BMW India has recently launched a limited performance edition of its 1-series vehicle. Changes made are in terms of external graphics and a few interior elements to help the vehicle gather more eyeballs. The 116i M Performance Edition is priced at Rs. 22.65 lakhs, which could possibly help the company differentiate itself from the other two luxury car giants. External changesExterior modifications comprise of black front grille, stylish rear spoiler with fins, sportier alloy wheels and M Performance lettering. The car is available in two non metallic paintworks, namely Crimson Red and Alpine White. Apart from these, it is also present in the following six metallic paintworks- Glacier Silver, Midnight Blue, Mineral Grey, Black Sapphire, Deep Sea Blue and Valencia Orange. Internal changesSide skirtings and sporty red accents are visible across the insides of the M Performance editions. In addition, leather wrapping with red stitching for steering wheel, red highlights for the speedometer and an electric glass roof will also be offered as part of standard features. EnginesOn the mechanical front, no changes have been made to the standard 1-Series. It still comes with a 1.6 litre petrol engine and a 2.0 litre diesel engine, delivering maximum power of 136 bhp and 143 bhp, respectively.Competition in the sub-25 lakh range is suddenly heating up in the Indian market. Many upwardly mobile Indians have taken a strong liking to vehicles such as the A-Class, 1-Series and the upcoming A3. It remains to be seen how well the new M Performance edition can stand out against the others in this segment. In terms of pricing, 116i M Performance Edition sis priced at Rs. 22.65 lakhs. The 118d M Performance Edition is available for Rs. 25.60 lakhs and 118d Sport M Performance Edition for Rs. 28.55 lakhs. Top variant 118d Sport Plus M Performance Edition can be purchased for Rs. 32.50 lakhs.advertisementlast_img read more