The Government will be spending $23 million to carry out various activities to ensure the smooth implementation of a three-month traffic ticket amnesty, scheduled to begin on August 2.
These activities include the hiring of 22 young persons who are now being trained to respond to queries from motorists during the period; and the provision of additional cashier stations and security personnel required to manage the anticipated influx of motorists at the offices of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ).
State Minister for National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. made the disclosure in the Senate on Friday (July 14). He was piloting the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Act 2017 which makes provisions for the amnesty.
He informed that the sum will also be used to conduct a public education campaign via radio, print media, social media and television “to ensure that every motorist is aware of the amnesty, its benefits and the designated payment locations”.
“This campaign has already begun via radio and (through) the circulation of Frequently Asked Questions sheets at various connected Government agencies and bill payment outlets including Paymaster,” he said.
Additionally, a portion of the money will facilitate the conducting of a series of briefing sessions with key stakeholders, including the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Ministry of Justice, TAJ and the Court Management Division.
Through this amnesty, which will end on October 31, the Government is seeking to recover outstanding fines from tickets issued between September 1, 2010 and July 31, 2017.
“This amnesty is not a reward for delinquency. It is a practical approach and effort to collect a total sum of $2.84 billion in outstanding traffic tickets as at December 31, 2016,” Senator Charles Jr said.
The State Minister noted that the money collected will be used to upgrade the Ticket Management System utilised by TAJ, JCF and the courts. It will also go towards the modernisation of the court system and the employment of more Judges. Some of the funds will also assist the Transport Ministry in modernising the methods used to enforce the Road Traffic Act, to ensure greater compliance by motorists.
Also, the money is expected to assist the Ministry of National Security to purchase appropriate hardware and software to strengthen the cyber security network system. It will also be used to purchase additional vehicles for the JCF, and invest in the security intelligence network.
Senator Charles Jr said the overall objective of the Government in granting the amnesty, are to enhance revenue administration and collection; allow persons to clear their driving record; improve the efficiency of the courts; and reduce the number of traffic cases before the courts.
“The intention of the Government is to give members of the motoring public the opportunity to “wipe their slates clean” before the implementation of the stricter Road Traffic Act,” he said.
“This is the opening for those motorists with matters before the court to not be subjected to any penalties being recorded against their driver’s license. Additionally, those individuals with large numbers of tickets will not have warrants executed on them by the courts,” he further explained.
He noted that the Road Traffic Act will be tabled by the end of July and should be enacted by the end of the amnesty period.
Following this, Senator Charles Jr warned that “the strong arm of the law will be visited upon those members of the motoring public who failed to utilise the amnesty”.
“These individuals may even have their licences taken away from them because of the number of tickets that they have outstanding. This will be so as there will be zero tolerance for those in breach of this new Road Traffic Act,” he said.
Members of the Senate approved the Bill, which was previously passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 11).