- Persons found in possession of agricultural produce, for which they have no receipt or invoice, may face hefty fines.
- Farmers are currently charged up to $250,000 if they fail to produce a receipt for their goods.
- The committee recommended that the fine for farmers be reduced to $100,000.
Persons found in possession of agricultural produce, for which they have no receipt or invoice, may face hefty fines if recommendations put forward by the Economy and Production Committee of Parliament for the strengthening the praedial larceny law are adopted.
At a meeting at Gordon House on January 14, committee member, Daryl Vaz, noted that currently, the end user is not charged or fined if they are found with goods without an invoice.
He argued, however, that if they are now liable to be fined or charged that “will force them to insist that…the farmer who they are buying from legitimizes themselves by issuing them a receipt to protect them”.
“The commencement of this legitimization starts with the farmer but encompasses the end user, who is not currently (included) and therefore, it will force me to tell (the farmer) that he will have to give me a receipt for the (goods) just in case they (inspectors) come to my establishment,” he said.
Committee member and Opposition Spokesperson on Agriculture and Fisheries, J.C. Hutchinson, said that while he agrees that the end user should now be charged, the farmer, on the other hand should not.
Farmers are currently charged up to $250,000 if they fail to produce a receipt for their goods.
“Instead of pressuring the farmer, turn it around and pressure the end user where the end user can be charged up to $1million and when that user sees that he has to get a receipt from the farmer, he is then going to make sure he gets the receipt.
“What happens now is the farmer is the one that is charged, the end user isn’t charged anything at all….So we move it from the farmer and the inspector goes there and if the end user cannot produce a receipt, then he is charged $1 million,” he said.
The committee further recommended that the fine for farmers be reduced to $100,000.
In his concluding remarks, Chairman of the committee, Karl Samuda, said a report will be prepared calling on Parliament to recommend that action be taken to amend the existing legislation relating to praedial larceny “to give it more teeth.”
He further noted that proposals will be made to strengthen the collaboration between the agencies of Government, most importantly, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Trade Board, and to provide financial resources in order to make it possible for the Ministry of Agriculture to assist in apprehending and bringing to book, those people who are engaged in praedial larceny.