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Licence plate disgrace!

Published:Thursday | July 23, 2015 | 5:11 PM

Licence-plate shortage a disgrace!

Mae Barrett

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) recently announced a shortage of licence plates across the entire island, with absolutely no timeline regarding when the stock will be replenished.

Numerous persons desirous of transferring motor vehicles have been left in limbo, including me. The most appalling aspect of this scenario is that nobody knows when licence plates will become available.

When you enquire with staff at the tax office, the response is, 'Listen to the media for an update.' Does this mean next month, six months from now, July 2016, perhaps? This is absolutely ludicrous and demonstrates, at best, the blatant disregard in which Jamaican taxpayers are held.

How is it possible that the entire stock of licence plates in the country could have been depleted, with no contingency in place? Is there no procurement plan at the tax office? Is there no forecasting mechanism to determine when stock should be replenished?

What interim arrangements are being made by the tax office to facilitate persons as they suffer this grave inconvenience, and loss of income for some? Who is accountable?

Loss of income for some

I visited the tax office on Friday, July 17, in an effort to transfer a motor vehicle, and, of course, was advised of the unavailability of licence plates. While there, I met a gentleman who was lamenting that he had just received a contract to deliver goods out of town and, with no licence plates, he could not drive his pickup van, and did not know what he was going to do. Who is going to compensate this man, and, potentially, other persons, for the loss of income?

I have had to pay for motor-vehicle insurance, which is a prerequisite for motor-vehicle transfer in Jamaica, and I have followed all the legal requirements that would allow me to proceed with this transaction. I have honoured all my obligations, but the Government has not done its part. This situation is untenable, and the public needs answers.

Meanwhile, I note that the House of Representatives has now approved the Tax Collection Arrears Order, which imposes penalties of 10 per cent on taxpayers who do not remit their taxes on time.

I am interested in hearing about what sanctions will be applied to the TAJ for failing to deliver on one of their core functions. The public sector in Jamaica cannot be allowed to continue to function with such inefficiency and lack of accountability, otherwise Vision 2030, which proposes developed-country status for Jamaica in the next 15 years, will become nothing more than a pipe dream!

The TAJ must provide the public with immediate answers, and must identify interim solutions for taxpayers who need to undertake motor-vehicle transactions.