Tax man, extortionists leaching businesses
Each year, untold millions of dollars are funnelled to enforcers, strongmen and area leaders who collect 'tax' from business operators in their areas of influence. While the full sum might never be known, it's not outside of reality to estimate the amount to date in the billions.
Business owners have come to accept the fact that there are multiple revenue-collection agencies in Jamaica and the monies spent to ensure life, limb and property are spared from the claws of criminality, although unsavoury, is an accepted reality of doing business in Jamaica.
The Government will this upcoming fiscal year seek to increase compliance for businesses through what some have described as 'draconian compliance measures'. The Government is obviously behind the times.
Draconian compliance measures are nothing new to business owners. The players change, but the game is the same. It's a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
What options are there for business owners when the tax man is knocking at your door followed soon by the area don? Refuse to pay and the Government could seize your assets. Refuse to pay and the enforcers will take your life. Pick your poison.
To those who leech on the productive labour of others and rob this nation of much-needed revenue, I leave with you the words of Khaled Hosseini ('The Kite Runner'): "There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness."
To the brave entrepreneurs, carry on, carry on.
Montclair, New Jersey