ONLINE READERS COMMENT: The police should not be used as tax collectors

Saturday, February 09, 2019

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Dear Editor,

I want to lodge my disagreement with the pronouncement reportedly made by Detective Sergeant Paul Bernard of the Clarendon Police Division at a community forum in Hayes, Clarendon.

I feel that it should not be the duty of the police to go around and ensure that citizens pay tax.

This, I strongly believe, is the duty of the Tax Department.

The police are not, and should not, be used as tax collectors. If the Tax and Health departments have police personnel assigned /on secondment, then 'John Public' should be told.

Even then, their supporting role should be behind the scene.

If not, very soon we will have police personnel or people impersonating police officers going around collecting taxes from shop operators.

At the said function, People's National Party caretaker for South East Clarendon, Patricia Duncan –Sutherland, in her opposition of Bernard's approach said “it should be done in partnership and not a war; as persons who are running the shops, or jerking, are doing it because they have no other jobs.

“Nobody grow up and say what I want to do is jerk chicken or be a shopkeeper, nobody ever says I want to open an illegal shop. That is not their desire”.

Well, most people open these illegal shops because there is no enforcement of the existing laws.

When these illegal shops operate for years, becoming a staple in communities then the authorities try to shut them down, we get justifiable comments such as Duncan- Sutherland's.

I think parish municipalities must have teams that go into communities to shut down these illegal shops. If this was done and citizens knew it would be done, in short order we would not have illegal shops. Shop operators would promptly regularise themselves.

Duncan -Sutherland just stopped short of saying it is OK to “teef electricity”.

Today most if not all of these illegal shop operators across Jamaica “teef electricity”.

In fact, generations have grown up with the desire to “teef electricity” believing that it's their right to so do because the law against extracting electricity is toothless. Bottom line, the authorities should nip illegal operations in the bud before it becomes uncontrollable.

Authnel S Reid

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