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High taxes give criminals upper hand - Int'l expert

Published:Wednesday | July 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Dave Cording (left), Crime Stop International representative, making a point to Major General Robert Neish, chairman of Crime Stop, at a press conference at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in St Andrew yesterday.

Director of Crime Stoppers International Dave Cording is warning the Jamaican Government that it should carefully consider not raising taxes too much as that would only make the illicit trading of goods more lucrative for organised gangs.

Cording was speaking yesterday at the offices of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in St Andrew during the launch of a new project aimed at sensitising local law enforcement and other government agencies on how to effectively identify counterfeit goods.

The project is a collaboration between Crime Stoppers Inter-national and Crime Stop Jamaica.

"Putting taxes up isn't the answer. If you increase tax, you push the consumers more towards the illicit. The answer is a coordinated effort. The United Nations has estimated that the illicit trade is about US$2.1 trillion across the world, so it is a big-money enterprise. Jamaica is a port that is used to receive these goods. The big ones being alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and clothes - all counterfeit," he said.

"The purpose of my work here in Jamaica is to heighten awareness and give additional training to law enforcement agencies, which covers the police, but also those who have responsibility like Customs. The most important thing around this training is how to spot and identify counterfeit items as opposed to the real thing."

Chairman of Crime Stop Major General Robert Neish said that Jamaica needs to upgrade the skills necessary for dealing effectively with illicit goods.

"There is a need to upgrade our skills in dealing with illicit goods coming into Jamaica. More than that, there is the issue of bad goods coming into Jamaica that are not fit for consumption and are not as good as the genuine goods, and (the producers) are not paying any taxes," said Neish.