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HEART Trust/NTA pushing to collect $665M from delinquent entities

Published:Sunday | September 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM
From left: Tesha Allen, Chadale Bent, Abbygail Blackwood, students Tony Hill HEART Trust/NTA, at a national volunteer symposium.
Heart/Trust NTA Corporate Building at the corner of Oxford and Belmont Road in Kingston.

The Human Employment and Resource Training Trust, National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA) has been forced to head to the courts to collect millions of dollars it is owed by entities that are failing to pay the deduction.

The HEART Trust/NTA is financed through a compulsory three per cent payroll deduction levied on qualified private sector firms, but more than 1,500 entities which should be paying are not paying.

According to the Trust, it is now seeking to collect at least $665 million owed by these entities that are not paying the deductions to the Collector of Taxes so that the money can be paid into the HEART Fund.

"Currently, more than 250 claims are before the courts to recover outstanding arrears," the HEART Trust/NTA said in an emailed response to Sunday Gleaner queries.

"Legal actions are taken monthly, with an average of 20 cases undertaken islandwide," added the Trust, which said it has also dispatched collectors islandwide in an effort to collect the outstanding money.


Politician among offenders


Among those taken before the courts in recent times is a prominent People's National Party activist, who is seeking to represent the party in a western Jamaica constituency.

In court documents seen by our news team, a company operated by the politician, whose name is being withheld, is alleged to owe the HEART Trust/NTA some $30 million.

The operators of a prominent north coast hotel also owe $10 million, with reports that they have been ordered to pay $850,000 monthly to clear the arrears while making current payments.

According to the Trust, "The outstanding arrears are cause for concern; and we are actively engaged in compliance activities. However, it must be noted that the operations of the HEART Trust are predicated on annual revenue targets.

"A revenue budget is prepared annually and is based on the previous years' collections and trends of payments. The agency employs a compliance strategy, including audits to identify contributors in arrears. Action is then taken to recover outstanding amounts. This ensures targets are met during the year," added the state entity.

HEART Trust/NTA said it now has a 70 per cent compliance rate but is seeking to increase that.

"Currently, there are nine auditors monitoring more than 15,000 contributors across the 14 parishes, with more than 3,500 audits completed during the last five years."

- Erica Virtue