Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Letter of the Day | Blame bureaucrats for ridiculous fines

Published:Saturday | April 29, 2017 | 12:02 AM


The recent complaints about the low fine imposed on Tesha Miller for breaching a law are pointing in the direction of the politicians as blameworthy. It is indeed fit and proper that we hold our politicians as ultimately responsible for the laws we have on our books and the ways these laws are enforced.

However, we must understand and appreciate that it is government employees, those appointed to the public bureaucracy, who are responsible for the day-to-day enforcement of our laws. They are the ones who should be apportioned the lion's share of the blame.

Every law and regulation in Jamaica is under the responsibility/portfolio of a member of the government bureaucracy. These are the persons who should take the responsibility for reviewing the laws they are to enforce and, where appropriate, advise the political directorate of changes or changes that are needed, including the level of fines that can be imposed.

The bureaucrats responsible for our immigration law are the ones who should be aware that a ridiculous fine of $100 for the breach that Tesha Miller pleaded guilty to remains law.

Each time members of a department in the government are being briefed about the way they carry out their responsibilities, the department head should also include in his briefing how the law is to be enforced. They should know the procedure to be followed, including reporting matters to the police and the courts. And, of course, the department head must be aware of the penalty to be imposed on anyone breaching the law which he is directing his subordinates to enforce.




The political directorate has declared that urgent steps will be taken to revise all laws with outdated fines and penalties. I submit that the easiest way to start the process is to request or direct that all departments and agencies with responsibility to enforce laws be requested to submit to the Ministry of Justice recommendations for updating the fines and other penalties in the laws for which their department is responsible.

The Government should direct that this request for submission on updating be met within two weeks. Departments that fail to comply should be looked at with a view to either replacing personnel or to making the department redundant on the basis that it is not meeting the task at hand.

The bureaucrats responsible for the efficient operation of the public section should monitor all aspects of their operations and constantly update the political directorate on the requirements of their departments. They, therefore, cannot escape the blame for a ridiculously low fine remaining on the law books for so long.