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Business community to help improve PoS
A Business Improvement District (BID) fund is being proposed by the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (Doma) to assist in upgrading Port-of-Spain. Making the announcement yesterday was the association’s president Gregory Aboud who met with Minister of Local Government Suruj Rambachan for close to an hour at Nicholas Towers in Port-of-Spain. The meeting, Aboud said, was to pave the way for the city’s future and address problems affecting businessowners and the general public. However, Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing was not part of the discussions because he was not invited. When contacted and asked why he was not given an invitation, Lee Sing said he had no idea. Aboud said to implement the fund would require specific legalisation. “We requested of the minister legalisation whereby obligating businessmen in the downtown centre contribute towards a central business fund commonly known in the US as a BID or a Business Improvement District. “This would mean that members of the business community would take more responsibility for conditions within the city,” Aboud added.
He said BID recognised that not all business owners contributed voluntarily. “It recognised that those who are doing business return to the community some of their time and involvement. “BID obligates the business owner or the tenant to make a contribution that is worked out on a formula. The business community has a responsibility to contribute to the environment in which they operate...it is a moral responsibility and a responsibility based upon common sense,” Aboud added. He said there were many Port-of-Spain business owners who were not contributing either to the association or to improving the city. “BID is almost like a condominium concept where you live in a building and from the fund there would be an election of officers and those officers would be responsible for maintenance, security, cleanliness, decorating and we believe this is a very positive type model.”
Saying that unless business flourished no city could flourish, Aboud considers initiatives taken by the city to help business would eventually uplift Port-of-Spain. He said there were also plans to synchronise vending and parking. Rambachan who described the meeting as “useful” said local Government working in tandem with communities could resuscitate economic activity. “I believe that cities succeed when businesses succeed and when businesses prosper they prosper because there are loyal customers and loyal customers cause sustainable jobs in communities and when you put all of that together what you get is economic expansion,” Rambachan said.
He added it was also the role of local Government to help make Port-of-Spain more attractive. On the issue of homeless people in Port-of-Spain Rambachan said a comprehensive plan is expected to be put in place by Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh in two weeks. Rambachan however, said the problem of street dwellers could never be totally eradicated. “We want to help people transform from street dwellers to independent citizens...I intend to bring together several stakeholders in the city so that the renewal of the city can be successful...we would also be working very closely with the minister of planning who is developing a very comprehensive plan of east Port-of-Spain,” Rambachan added. Among other challenges being faced by businessmen, Aboud said was a lack of parking and improper disposal of garbage. Rambachan said he intended to hold talks with Lee Sing to review the hours of work of the litter wardens. pavements throughout Port-of-Spain are improved to avoid people from falling into the manholes.
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