Thursday, May 14, 2009

glasgow kills paddy's market

The Glasgow city council has declared 200-year-old Paddy's Market a "crime-ridden midden" and announced a "new vision", which includes plans to revitalise the area and lease units to artists and "legitimate traders". Current residents have been given notice to vacate the site by tomorrow, reports UTV News.

The market, tucked under railway arches in a lane running between the city centre and the River Clyde, is unique and haphazard. Clothes, books and furniture are strewn along rickety tables and camp-beds. But Michael Burns, a fifth-generation hawker, says this is part of its appeal. "You cannot make this city all shiny and polished and pretend it's something that it's not. We serve a need. Paddy's is a reminder that poverty still exists here. Closing us might take the problem out of sight, but it doesn't solve it."

It's classic: despite the council's talk of renting the site to legitimate traders, the current occupants are legitimate, too. They pay £130,000 a year in rent, plus taxes.

Sounds like the Council thinks gentrified market sellers are more legit than the people who are there now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

more on the soccer war

I missed this when it came out--though I did post on a demonstration about the issue here.

Now it seems that Durban, South Africa not only wants to disrupt hawkers during the World Cup in 2010. It actually wants to turn informal markets into an upscale malls.

Inter Press Service reports on the plan that would uproot the 674 traders at the Warwick Junction Market and transform the space in the Warwick Junction Mall. All this for $2.5 million over 50 years.

In typical fashion, the government would earn almost triple that amount by working with the hawkers.

[thanks, Richard, for sending this my way]

Thursday, May 7, 2009

a Magna Carta for Informal Sector Workers

What a great idea. The Business Mirror has the details of this terrific and catchy proposal that's currently being debated in the Philippines.

Key details:
1. Under the Magna Carta, informal-sector workers will be required to pay no less than P50 ($1) but not more than P100 ($2) as a registration fee in exchange for a license to operate and benefits, such as health and accident insurance, and other social protection schemes that will be granted to the informal-sector workers.
2. the government could raise from P1.23 billion to P2.46 billion (in US dollars, from $26 million to $52 million) in taxes

According to 2005 stats, the Philippines has 24.6 million people working in the informal economy, while formal-sector workers number just 5.3 million.

'unfair and dangerous street trading'

The North Norfolk News offers the story of one UK locality's attempt to crack down on wily traders. The dangerous and unfair types: "burger vans, and two or three traders in a lay-by instead of one." You know government has become insane when the Chamber of Commerce spokesperson has the most sane response: that the boom in streetside trading is a "sign of the times" born out of people seeking low-cost business start-ups in the recession.

Friday, May 1, 2009

look to the informal

That's what the governments of both Ghana and Uganda are telling people who are looking for jobs: work in the informal sector. The Ghanaian Chronicle and Monitor have the details.

Money quote:
"The 18,000 jobs government creates annually are very minimal compared to the number of jobless people. The President has already directed that we focus our intervention to the informal sector to overcome this problem of unemployment in the country."
-- Uganda's Labour Minister Emmanuel Otaala

There's an unspoken corollary here: that government must work with and assist informal businesses as they seek to grow.