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Traffic Amnesty to start Aug 2

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter

Friday, July 21, 2017

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A White Paper (Government draft policy) is to be tabled soon in the House of Representatives to facilitate a second Bill covering payment of outstanding traffic tickets over an amnesty period lasting from August 2 to October 31, 2017.

The new legislation, which will emerge following the tabling of the White Paper, will facilitate the payment and collection of unpaid amounts dating back to September 2010.

The Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Act 2017, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament last week, seeks to:

* Enhance revenue administration and collection;

* Afford drivers an opportunity to clear their driving record before the enactment of the new Road Traffic Act;

* Improve the efficiency of the courts; and,

* Reduce the number of cases in the court.

This will be achieved by granting an amnesty for a period of three months — August 2, 2017 to October 31, 2017. This will affect tickets issued between September 1, 2010 and July 31, 2017.

A public education campaign via radio, print media and television will be conducted. Presently, data shows that the outstanding traffic tickets in the c ourts total a sum of $2,283,841,900.00 and meetings with key stakeholders, including: the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Ministry of Justice, Tax Administration Jamaica and Court Management Division are on the cards.

Additionally, the records of the Inland Revenue Department states that there is $565,925,300 in outstanding traffic tickets as at December 31, 2016.

According to Mike Henry, minister of transport and mining, the amnesty will seek to facilitate the collection of these monies for the public purse.

To ensure the collection of these monies, the Ministry of National Security intends to:

a) Conduct a public education campaign via radio, print media and television with focus primarily on the target audience;

b) Conduct a series of briefings and meetings with key stakeholders, including: the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Ministry of Justice, Tax Administration Jamaica, and Court Management Division; and,

c) Provide additional cashier stations and security personnel required to manage the large influx of motorists on peak days during the amnesty at the offices of Tax Administration of Jamaica.

Motorists with outstanding tickets dating back to September 2010 will be able to pay up their tickets costs or fines over the period of the amnesty without demerits.

The Bill will facilitate:

a) The suspension of the relevant section of the Road Traffic Act to enable motorists holding unpaid traffic tickets that have become a matter before the courts to pay them at the offices of Tax Administration of Jamaica. These are tickets issued from September 1, 2010 to July 31,2017;

b) The suspension of the relevant section of the Judicature (Parish Courts) Act and Justice of the Peace Jurisdiction Act, thereby preventing the issuance of warrants by a parish court judge or a justice of the peace for the arrest of traffic ticket holders;

c) Motorists holding unpaid traffic tickets would be offered an amnesty in relation to penalty points being recorded against their driver's licences; and

d) Motorists who receive tickets during the period of the amnesty will also enjoy a waiver of penalties outside of the fines (that is points against their drivers' licences), so long as the payment is made within the amnesty period.

Noteworthy, is that during the Amnesty motorists have the option of contesting their tickets in court. However, motorists will be required to abide by the decision of the Court and cannot, thereafter, utilise the amnesty offer.

Additionally, motorists who do not avail themselves of the amnesty will be vigorously pursued by the strong arm of the law after the amnesty period is concluded.

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