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'We are going to lock you up'

Published:Friday | April 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM

GOVERNMENT WORKERS who are facilitating the leakage of tax revenues have been warned that they will be pursued and punished for their dirty deeds.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw told Parliament yesterday that there are bad apples in the various government departments that are engaging in corrupt practices and facilitating major revenue losses.

"The culture of tax evasion is a serious problem in Jamaica and it has reached a point where it has infiltrated, through corruption, too many of the revenue-enhancing institutions of the country," the finance minister said.

Shaw this week suspended the award of waivers in the Ministry of Finance after the Financial Investigations Division uncovered what the minister said was an elaborate fraud scheme.

He told Parliament that the scam appears to have been taking place over many years and that 12 months of waiver files from records that date back to 2004 were missing.

Cleaning-up operation

"We are going to send a signal that we are going to have a massive cleaning-up operation. There are too many of our revenue departments where there is a massive collusion between officials in government depart-ments and their co-conspirators in the private sector. It is leading to multibillions of dollars of abuse in this country," the finance minister said.

"I am promising every public-sector worker who is involved in any kind of act to defraud the Government, we are going to track you down and we are going to lock you up and put away the key," Shaw added.