August 3, 2010
Chamber calls on partners for support

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce is calling on the business sector for support in its quest to obtain a renewal of the lease of the car park it operates in Kingstown.{{more}}

A letter circulated to the Chamber’s business partners on August 1, suggested that things might come to a head if, in the absence of a lease renewal, the Chamber is not compensated for the developmental works on the property.

“We would like to remain confident that should withdrawal of the lease arrangement from the Chamber be considered, that any noble administration would compensate this non-profit organization for the developmental work it has carried out on the property with due consideration for inflation,” the Chamber said.

The private sector organization also asked whether a lease would be signed with another group if they were not successful in getting their lease renewed.

“If another organization is in reality being considered, the following questions come to mind. Is it because the Government is attempting to find favour with another organization at this most opportune time? If the car park is being considered as support for any other organization, is the car park the only form of support that the Government could provide? Have any other options of assistance been explored that might not be at the expense of survival of another organization?” the Chamber said in the letter.

The group called on it members and stakeholders for support, saying it was reliably informed that the government had a pending decision to withdraw the lease for car park in Kingstown.

In 2000, the Chamber spent some $500,000 to develop into a car park 37,432 sq ft of land next to the Administrative Centre on the Reclamation Site in Kingstown.

That same year, the Chamber entered into a lease arrangement in the sum of $10,000 per annum in the first 5 years and this sum was increased to $50,000 per annum in 2005.

The government also, in 2005, did not approve the Chamber’s request for a longer term lease to further develop the facility into a modern multilevel car parking complex, the Chamber said.

The Chamber, in the August 1 circular, said the government had not over the past year formally responded to its request for renewal of its regular five-year lease.

It however said it had “received reliable reports that consideration is being given by the Government to handing over of the facility to another entity.”

“The implication of the withdrawal of the lease assignment by the Government would mean the survival of the Chamber – the voice of the private sector – is at risk,” the Chamber said.

“Without the Chamber, who would be the apolitical, non-governmental, independent collective voice in advocacy for the business community’s interests?” the Chamber said in the August 1 communiqué.

The Chamber said the government has often called upon it when making policy decisions “and this affirms the recognition of the value of the organization”.

“However, how can we as an organization be expected to maintain and strengthen our capacity to represent and protect the interest of the private sector if our sustainability is being undermined?” the Chamber said.

The Chamber said it has “endeavoured to maintain the property in pristine condition at all times and has not received any official complaints from our landlord which might suggest otherwise”.

“Further, if the lease value is being challenged, we would hope that this too would be negotiated with the organization,” the group added, even as it said it was “cognizant of the right of the Government to discontinue the lease arrangement”.

“We however refuse to believe that a visionary Government, which purports one of its pillars of development as private sector growth, would want to take steps such as withdrawal of the car park lease without good reason,” the group further said.

Shafia London Executive Director of the Chamber told SEARCHLIGHT last week that the group had not received any official correspondence from the government. Attempts to reach her yesterday were unsuccessful.

Cabinet Secretary Susan Dougan said a response has been issued to the Chamber and should have reached the group by the end of last week. (KXC)