Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
DAVON CRUMP, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has said the business community is now fearful of the damning effect the lottery scam could have on the city's economy if it is not curtailed by effective laws.
"This kind of criminal activity must be recognised as such and dealt with by the full force of the law", Crump said.
"The legislative changes must be swift and decisive and seek to permanently stamp out this kind of illegal activity, which is tantamount to robbery."
According to Crump, the chamber is concerned with the threat to jobs in the call-centres and the Second City's tourism product on account of the destructive impact of the scam.
During a tour of the Second City two weeks ago, National Security Minister Peter Bunting was quite concerned about the fact that the resort city's economic value was being threatened to the extent that thousands of jobs could be lost on account of the lotto scam.
"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," Bunting said in an address to the chamber."
"Once you get that international reputation, you are going to find there is going to be a negative impact on the economy," he added.
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 illicit scheme within two to three months. He added that new legislation, with a broader range of charges, will be introduced by 2014.
"The call-centre operations here are legitimate activities and provide thousands of well-needed jobs, especially for young people and our tourism sector," said Crump.
"It is an important engine of growth for this city.We must preserve our profitable industries and that time is now," he added.
"It is imperative that the Minister of Justice steps up its game and move purposefully to enact these laws and save our city and, by extension, Jamaica."