Washington: Diplomats from nearly 180 countries owe a walloping USD 18 million in parking tickets to New York City, according to a senior American lawmaker.
Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents New York 9th District in the Congress, has said as many as 180 countries, including Egypt, Pakistan and Iran, owe New York City USD 18 million in parking tickets.
The lawmaker also announced to introduce a legislation in the Congress, which if passed would result in US aid cuts to those countries whose diplomats do not pay parking fees.
"It is insulting to all New Yorkers that countries like Yemen, Zimbabwe and Iran owe the City millions in unpaid parking tickets," Weiner said.
"Diplomats park illegally, ignore paying their parking tickets and expect New Yorkers to pick up the tab. This needs to end."
Topping the list of violators is Egypt, which owes nearly USD 2 million to the New York City; followed by Kuwait (USD 1.26 million), Nigeria (USD1.1 million), Indonesia (USD 692,200), Brazil (USD 608,733) and Morocco (USD 582,883). Pakistan is ranked seventh in the top 10 list as it owes USD 575,108. Other countries in the top 10 are Senegal (USD 486,929), Sudan (USD 475,970) and Angola (USD 438,486).
In 2001, Congress had passed legislation to withhold foreign aid to countries in amounts equivalent to their outstanding parking fines, but the withheld money was never passed on to New York City. The current law has allowed the State Department to move withheld funds to other programmes, rather than paying down the debt to NYC.
Weiner announced legislation that will require the State Department to use the withheld funds to pay New York City directly.
Countries that do not receive foreign aid from the State Department will not be subject to the Weiner legislation, but nearly 85 percent of countries that owe New
York City parking ticket fees receive aid from the US.
Under Weiner's legislation, a country like Egypt that owes USD 1.9 million in parking tickets, would have USD 2.1 million in foreign aid withheld by the State Department and send the entire amount to NYC.
"The law passed in 2001 was a step in the right direction, but my bill will ensure that the money we receive from diplomatic parking fees goes directly where it belongs to the coffers of New York City," Weiner said.
First Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 15:51