‘Fraud to the highest extent’ – City Council discovers fraudsters collecting vending fees for years

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The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has launched an investigation into the allegations that two persons, who do not work with City Hall, have been collecting vending fees from the ‘night’ vendors at the Stabroek Market for the past two years.

This discovery was only made on Monday during City Hall’s statutory meeting, according to PPP/C Councillor, Don Singh, who also sits on the M&CC Finance Committee.

The practice of City Hall collecting fees from the night vendors ceased in November 2021 because of issues surrounding where the money would be lodged.

Currently, night vendors are required to pay between $1500 to $2500 to ply their trade in the area; there are approximately 60 to 100 vendors there.

So, who has been collecting the tens of millions of dollars in fees over the past two years? This is what the investigation will seek to find out.

In an interview with the News Room on Tuesday, Singh said the issue was raised when the outgoing treasurer was asked about suggestions on how revenue can be generated into the ‘cash-strapped’ City Hall.

Singh said it was during this discussion that a suggestion was made for the collection of night fees to resume.

“A whole bunch of PPP/C councillors jumped up and said that’s a lie because we see people collecting from the night vendors at Stabroek Market every single night…This caused a huge fold because if we [have not] been collecting for two years and somebody has been collecting for two years, we are talking 60, 70 million dollars has been collected by persons unknown,” Singh told the News Room.

He added, “So, we just asked for an investigation to be launched immediately but apparently this has been going on for years and nobody said anything…but we can’t run a city that way.”

PPP/C Councillor, Don Singh

Singh said there is a mechanism in place for the fees to be safely stored.

“They said they had to stop it [night collection] because there was nowhere for them to lodge the money at the end of the night, never mind that the Head of the City constabulary is a stone’s throw away from the Stabroek Market with a safety deposit box well secured. There is a night deposit.

“It just makes no sense…That just seems like a very flimsy excuse to me,” the Councillor contended.

Singh said the individuals involved in the fraudulent act are pretending to be City Constabulary officers, bearing credentials from the City Hall. They also issue receipts after payments are made.

“…They [vendors] are paying purportedly to City Hall but not one dime has come into City Hall from that within two years but the collection is happening,” Singh said.

According to Singh, if the City Constabulary, which is the investigative arm of City Hall do not act, the Guyana Police Force will be called in.

“Fraud, criminality to the highest extent…If the City Constabulary does not investigate thoroughly, well then, we will have to ask the Guyana Police Force to step in. Because it’s clear fraud,” Singh told the News Room.

In the meantime, he is calling on night vendors at the Stabroek market to cease payment of fees and to come forward with the receipts issued, which can aid in the probe.

“I am telling the night vendors now, do not pay a cent. Stop paying and if you would like to, come forward with the receipt, so we can start prosecuting people who are doing this, purportedly from City Hall. It’s a lot of redundancy going on. A lot of back and forth. You get the sense that nobody wants to interfere with the state of scope there,” he said.

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1 Comment
  1. Don A Gomes says

    awesome.now the fraudsters/ bandits are going to be upset!
    good call Don Singh.

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