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Aboud on slow downtown sales: Dialogue needed to grow businesses
President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud says decisions made by people in authority have placed “handcuffs” on downtown merchants and made it difficult for DOMA to defend Port-of-Spain commerce. He was responding to the T&T Guardian yesterday about concerns raised by downtown vendors and merchants who said Christmas sales were very slow.
“Many persons in authority seem to exhibit an attitude that portrays downtown business people as invincible and they therefore remain impervious to the reasonable and logical requests that we make,” he said via telephone. One such request included a revision of parking laws which was being held up by “technocrats,” Aboud said.
“Revision of parking laws are now stuck at the seventh stage of committee level where certain technocrats two weeks ago put another ‘nail in the Port-of-Spain coffin’ by their casual rejection of a proposal nine months in the making, which had been approved by many other agencies and even had the blessing of the Government.” He added there was an element of historic prejudice that saw the business community as having enough, and therefore no effort was made to help it grow and expand.
Another point Aboud raised was the lack of participation in committee meetings by some business owners and vendors. “More than 50 per cent of downtown business community do not participate in committee meetings and have refused invitations to join any of the associations that represent stakeholder interests.” He said therefore those businesses had to take responsibility for many of the outcomes imposed on them by various agencies.
Aboud said a sensible discussion was needed to address vending, as it has never received the type of rational approach that could create a winning situation for the vendors, the business people and the public. He said, however, when businesses complained of slow sales, it did not mean they were ungrateful for sales they received.
“When business people complain about slow sales, members of the public consider it to be ungratefulness. What we attempt to communicate is that comparatively, we could be doing a lot better. “While we are grateful for trade we are doing, we know that future prospects for Port-of-Spain as a business centre are growing more dim with each passing year,” he said.
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