Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
'Thousands of jobs could be lost if lottery scam is not controlled'
MINISTER OF National Security Peter Bunting has said the economic value of the tourist resort of Montego Bay is under threat and thousands of jobs could be lost if the illegal lottery scam is not brought under control.
"We have taken the anti-lotto scam task force and brought it under MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force), recognising that while the individual players in the lotto scam might not rise to the kingpin level, but collectively, it represents a clear and present danger to Jamaica," said Bunting, during an address to the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry last Thursday. "... it represents a huge risk to the economy of St James."
According to the security minister, the people most likely to be affected are those employed to call centres and the tourism sectors.
"if we can't make some real dents in what is going on now, certainly your whole call centre is going to be threatened and 10,000 or so jobs," continued Bunting, "Certainly your tourism is going to be at risk as well, people are going to be fearful that they come here and if they run a credit card, information is skimmed off and they might become the victims of fraud."
"Once you get that international reputation, you are going to find there is going to be a negative impact on the economy," continued Bunting.
The lottery scam is being blamed for the high rate of murders in St James, now approaching the 130 mark.
According to Bunting, legislative changes can be expected to improve the police's ability to get convictions for persons arrested for alleged involvement in the lottery scam.
"Within two to three months, their (the police) ability to bring a broader range of charges and to get convictions will be improved and the ideal situation is within a year," noted Bunting. "New pieces of legislation will be introduced by 2014.
"Discussions are now being held for the strategic establishment of a number of police posts to support the 16 existing police stations in the parish," the minister added.