Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
MEMBER OF Parliament for Central St James, Lloyd B. Smith, says the Government of which he is a part has not been effectively responding to the lottery-scam phenomena which has its roots in the western parish.
Smith said Montego Bay would explode if the requisite social interventions are not forthcoming to deal with the illicit activity.
"I think Montego Bay is sitting on a time bomb. I know sometimes when I say these things even my own party will say I am not to say these things in public, but I have to," Smith told The Gleaner after a Jamaica National forum on the lottery scam last week.
He argued that, unless there was some major, meaningful intervention, Montego Bay would descend more and more into scamming.
"We spend too much time having seminars and talk shops," Smith said as he blamed government agencies such as the Social Development Commission for failing to do more to empower people.
He said Montego Bay has "always had a subculture of operating outside the law" and argued that not enough was being done to counter criminal activities such as scamming.
"It is a lucrative field, the tragedy is that there are no real convictions. Many of the people who have been taken in are soon back on the streets and they continue their activities. You, as being part of what is to represent law and order, you are up against the wall," Smith said.
MoBay being taken for granted
He said in Montego Bay, rarely does one find anybody against scamming. "Unless we can counter what the scammers can offer to the young people, then it is a lost cause," Smith said.
The first-term MP said he has spoken to officials within the Government telling them Montego Bay is still being taken for granted.
In the meantime, Smith said while it was important that the Government pushes ahead with legislation to clamp down on the lottery scam, there also needs to be more intense police activities in Montego Bay aimed at displacing and disrupting scamming.
"Many of the lottery scammers are well known. Why is it that every time a lottery scammer is dubbed a major player and then that person is back on the street or charged with some little fool-fool offence?" Smith remarked.
He added: "In the States, when you are a major crime person you are literally harassed everyday and I think that is what needs to happen. This business of just raiding and locking up for a few days and then releasing is nonsense."