Govt welcomes court ruling on TPL land
Collymore slams PNCR on street vending
Stabroek News
August 9, 2003

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The government yesterday welcomed the court ruling on the controversial Toolsie Persaud Limited (TPL) land on Water Street and labelled PNCR’s comments on the issue of street vending in Georgetown as “downright mischievous.”

Local Government Minister Clinton Collymore pointed out that his ministry has been in constant touch with City Hall and the street vendors at various levels and a general consensus has been achieved on the way forward.

At a press conference on Thursday, the PNCR had called on the government to honour the court ruling awarding $250M to TPL for the land. The party had also said that the emergence of street vending was a response by persons living in deprived economic circumstances and had to be handled in a delicate manner.

A press statement from the Minister within the Ministry of Local Government said the PNCR has adopted this posture simply because the government has been able to find a solution to the problem in a meaningful and comprehensive way.

“The government takes this opportunity to welcome the decision of the High Court in the matter of the case initiated by Toolsie Persaud Inc. where the Water Street tract of land is concerned. The High Court has handed down a decision to the effect that Government must pay the sum of $250M to Toolsie Persaud for the property,” Collymore noted.

He also contended that it was during the PNC’s time in office that widespread street vending was nurtured, and some legitimate businesses had to close their doors due to the unregulated activity.

“It is wickedness on the part of the PNCR to be fulminating otherwise in the media. The bottomline is that chaos created by unregulated street vending should be laid at the doorstep of the PNC”, Collymore said.

The release added that the Toolsie Persaud tract was originally prime waterfront commercial land owned by the state and it was during the PNC administration that the land was sold to Toolsie Persaud Limited for $2.7M, and despite promises by the firm to develop the plot, nothing has been done for nearly two decades.

At this point, government stepped in to find a place for the vendors to ply their trade in “peace and comfort of mind,” Collymore said.

City Hall had written to the Ministry of Local Government proposing that government take steps to enable the municipality to utilise vacant plots of land for the purpose of accommodating the street vendors, the Minister said.

The acquisition of the vacant Toolsie Persaud plot could be deemed to have stemmed from consistent requests by the Georgetown City Council and there has been no evidence for over three years to indicate that the PNCR section of the Council was against the Council’s decision to seek the plot to accommodate the vendors, the release stated.

Central Government in addressing the gravity of the situation set up a negotiating team to open talks with the management of Toolsie Persaud Inc. on the acquisition of the property, Collymore said, adding that an offer of $100M was made which was countered with a demand for $400M. According to the release, the High Court has now handed down a judgement which the government has decided to honour.

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