Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday clarified statements that the $12 billion in uncollected Value Added Tax (VAT) which he spoke about was taken out of context by the media.
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Crackdown on illegal vending
Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee yesterday announced a crackdown on illegal vending in the city. At a press conference at City Hall, Tim Kee said at present vending was only legal to licensed vendors on Charlotte Street and all other vendors would be removed. Vending in the city takes place on most of the major streets, including Frederick, Queen and Henry Streets. In an interview after the mayor’s announcement several vendors in Port-of-Spain said they were not surprised at his decision.
“They always threatened to move us,” said one elderly woman. “Well when they tell me to move I will move,” she added. Asked if she had attempted to get a licence to sell legally, she said she applied ten years ago but was told that licences were not available. One young woman selling watches on Frederick Street was confused. “How can they do that? This is my only source of income. I have two children to feed and this is how I feed them. Where are they going to put us?” she asked.
According to Tim Kee, regularisation of vending in the city meant the corporation would now ensure that arrangements made in the past were adhered to. “The Charlotte Street vendors were given the opportunity to vend under certain conditions. We will notify the vendors that unless these conditions are met they will not be allowed to sell their items,” Tim Kee said. One of the conditions referred to vendors staying within the space alloted to them by the corporation.
“The city is crowded with vendors on every corner. That will be a thing of the past,” Tim Kee said. Vendors still populate the city selling a variety of merchandise on the streets. Though Tim Kee said there had been discussions with vendors, Raymond Francis, who has sold leather belts on Henry Street for 22 years said no discussion had taken place. “This is unfair. He can’t just come and stop me. I have been here 22 years.
“If he wants us to pay for a licence that would be something different but to say we can’t vend and we have to go and that is the end of the story, that is not right. “I am a citizen of this country too. How can he do that?” Francis asked. With Tim Kee’s plan, vendors who have not already applied for licences would not be able to apply. He said the list for applications was full, so even if new vendors wanted to apply they would not be able to get licences.
Tim Kee’s plans
The mayor intends to remove most of the vendors from the city streets, leaving only snack vendors selling items such as nuts, doubles and pies on streets other than Charlotte Street. These vendors, however, would need to be mobile and not stay in one particular spot. The mayor said the corporation intended to design carts for those vendors and ensure they wore a shirt identifying them as legal vendors.
Pie vendors would not be allowed to remain on the street for more than three hours, Tim Kee said, explaining that the city health officer had said that was the shelf life for pies. “Nobody will be allowed to just put something together and come into the city and vend,” he said. Tim Kee is attempting a feat previously attempted by former mayors Louis Lee Sing in 2010 and Murchison Brown in 2006.