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#377831 - 05/21/10 09:54 AM Queen’s Square Market Will Be Ready in Four Months
Marty Offline
Last week on this newscast, you saw market vendors going ballistic on the city council after they heard the proposal that the council wants to increase their rental fees. It has become necessary because the re-modeled Queen Square market was not finished on time. The council has thus had to extend its arrangement with the owner of the Pound Yard space which is hosting the temporary market. The owner, Arun Hotchandani has stipulated a sharply increased rental fee, and the proposal is that some of that will have to be passed unto the vendors.

Today - representatives of the Social Investment Fund - which has been blamed for the delay in completion of the market went to the market to explain the position to the vendors. 7news was there.

Mike Hernandez, Social Investment Fund
"Today basically we want to tell them what actually is going to happen as part of the second phase."

The Group from the social investment fund met stony faces at the Queen Square market this morning where the vendors didn't want to hear what they had to say.

Market vendor
"It is highly possible that the market won't finish this year. One reason is that we are very close to the hurricane season and we are almost in the rainy season. That would slow down the construction of that market a lot."

Market vendor
"To say that in the next 4 months that he can complete the balance of stalls plus complete what is there we think it's realistic. Yes we agree that rain is something that we cannot really predict, indeed if a hurricane comes - an act of God - that is something that is outside our control."

Market vendor
"Why didn't they build a complete market? So that whenever we get into the market we don't have to deal with rain or the sun? Why is it just pieces again? When it rains this whole place will flood again."

"The reason it couldn't be all closed up was because the Public Health Department advised that we really needed the air to flow through there, so that the fruits could last longer and that we have proper ventilation for everyone comfort as well. If everything was closed up that would have contributed more to heat and wastage of the produce."

And despite the misunderstandings and misgivings - SIF remains on message and the project is on target, they say

Mike Hernandez
"What the residents are going to get at the end of the day when this project is finished is actually a first class market. I do know that there have been some concerns especially with the delay of the project, but as I said that has been completely out of our control. We are here to tell them that the project actually is going to start on the first of June and it will run for the next 3 to 4 months. The market will be completed by September of this year."

Jules Vasquez
"How much, what percentage of the completion are we at right now?"

Mike Hernandez
"We are almost I would say about 50-60 percent because the remaining portion is going to be mostly about finishing the aesthetics of the area."

So what you see here is basically the market - which was another sore point for the vendors who expected a two storey building.

But time and increased rental charges is what's bothering them the most

Jules Vasquez
"it's not on schedule Mr. Hernandez."

Mike Hernandez
"It's a process that we have no control of."

Alfonso Noble, Editor Guardian newspaper
"Have you guys ran out of money? Has the first phase ran out of money?"

Mike Hernandez
"It has not run out of money. The first phase was $614,000.00 there about. The second phase is something around $743,000.00."

Jules Vasquez "Shouldn't they have flowed seamlessly one in to the other without having this interregnum?"

Mike Hernandez
"Under ideal circumstances, yes. That is what should have happened. As I said it has been absolutely out of our control."

Jules Vasquez
"Whose control is it?"

Mike Hernandez
"As I said it's a process, its CDB. We have to abide by the guidance of CDB."

Jules Vasquez
"Is the Social Investment Fund is having an adverse social impact on the vendors of this market?"

Mike Hernandez
"Well if you want to call it that way, what can I say, all I can say is that we are doing what is actually within our control."

Jules Vasquez
"Have you all explained to CDB: 'listen this is not something we can wait on, we needed this last month.'"

Mike Hernandez
"This is precisely, Jules, why we are here. As I said the process is sometimes very bureaucratic, very tedious sometimes, I know people get frustrated. I must admit even us at SIF get very frustrated. I do understand the situation for the vendors. Actually it was this week when we had the visit of a key official of CDB that we managed to really say to them; look this can't continue like this. This is what we have been saying to them all along. So thank God this thing has been approved and now it has paved the way for us to continue with the project."

So four months is what they are looking at.

Mike Hernandez
"It will end in September. What you are going to get is a first class market for Belize City for which everyone are going to be proud of including the vendors who are actually the stake holders."

The Social Investment fund is required by law to hold such meetings.

The City Council met in caucus this evening to decide what if any additional fee it will affix on vendors for use of the market space during the extension period.

Channel 7

#377928 - 05/22/10 10:48 AM Re: Queen’s Square Market Will Be Ready in Four Months [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Deal on Queen’s Square

When we left the temporary market at the pound yard bridge yesterday, the position was that, first, the Social Investment Fund promised the new market would be finished in October; and second, the City Council would review the proposed increase in rental charges for the vendors at its caucus yesterday. Well, it was reviewed and Deputy Mayor Phillip Willoughby today told us that they have reached a cost saving compromise with the Hotchandani Group - who they are renting the space from. The good news is that the vendors will have to pay less of an increase, but they will still have to pay something.

Phillip Willoughby - Deputy Mayor
"The Council will be subsidizing a hefty sum. We might look in terms of the right off subsidy and otherwise in terms of the cash as well as the vendors. We might not raise it up to the ten but you need to partnership with the council at this time to bear a portion of this cost and not left solely the entire cost on the council, nor is the Council placing the entire burden on yourself. So we have restructured it to say that this is win-win situation for all involved."

Jules Vasquez
"The vendors may argue that if you all received such a mark down in the rental then you all don't need to pass on anything on to the vendors just leave it as is."

Phillip Willoughby
"No that won't be a fair equation because from the calculation we are seeing here if we would choose the monies collected from the bus $3,264.00 and you subtract from the $6,000 there is a shortfall of $2,736.00 a month there about. We are saying that now we would have to subsidize this including the write-off and providing all other features that needs to go in to the Council and this is variable and fix cost."

Jules Vasquez
"You mean that you still have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the market."

Phillip Willoughby "Exactly so. The personnel, security, upkeep, facilities and so forth. We have to maintain that."

Jules Vasquez
"Is this a firm final and clear position that yes the vendors will have to shoulder some of this burden?"

Phillip Willoughby
"Well I trust that based on the discussion providing that Central Government wants to accommodate the initial write-off. And the Hotchandani says well the $6,000 is safe then we proceed and say, 'Hear what we are at this amount. We came down to here, work with us.'"

According to our reports the proposed tax write-off for the Hotchandani group could be as much as 68 thousand dollars. That still has to be approved by the ministry of local government. One proposal is that those vendors who are paying five dollars a day rental may have that increased to seven dollars and fifty cents a day.

Channel 7


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