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JUTC owes nearly $2b in taxes

Published:Wednesday | April 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Employees at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) are not being denied benefits despite more than $700 million in unpaid statutory deductions to the National Insurance Scheme fund, the National Housing Trust and for education taxes.

Tax and penalties have sent the unpaid bill skyrocketing to $1.889 billion.

The company, which provides highly subsidised public transportation service, is buckling under the chronic cash crunch and when combined with other outstanding sums there is an accumulated $10.68-billion debt burden, more than half of which is as a result of penalties.

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis, in her report tabled December 2011, showed accumulated deficit for the financial year 2009-2010, as at March 31, 2010, of $8.3 billion. The updated deficit, including losses and outstanding deductions for the period up to 2011, pushed it to $10.68 billion.

Audrey Sewell, permanent secretary in the transport ministry, told Parliament's Public Accounts Committee yesterday that the employees of the company were not at a disadvantage as a result of the non-payment of their deductions.

She said the company has been ordered to resume the payments.