Higher crime rates because of higher taxes? According to Dave Cording, director of Crime Stoppers International, this is exactly what can happen. Higher taxes can contribute to a rise in illicit trade. A warning he gave to the Jamaican Government during a visit to the offices of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.
2.1 trillion dollar problem
The Jamaican Government should consider not raising taxes too much, according to Dave Cording. This could make illicit trading of goods more lucrative for organised gangs. “Putting taxes up isn’t the answer. If you increase tax, you push the consumers more towards the illicit. The answer is a coordinated effort. The United Nations has estimated that the illicit trade is about US$2.1 trillion across the world, so it is a big-money enterprise. Jamaica is a port that is used to receive these goods. The big ones being alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and clothes – all counterfeit,” he said.
“The purpose of my work here in Jamaica is to heighten awareness and give additional training to law enforcement agencies, which covers the police, but also those who have responsibility like Customs. The most important thing around this training is how to spot and identify counterfeit items as opposed to the real thing.”
In Jamaica Crime Stoppers International works together with local subsidiary body Crime Stop Jamaica, which is headed by Chairman Major General Robert Neish. According to him Jamaica needs to upgrade the skills necessary for dealing effectively with illicit goods, which is a growing problem worldwide. “There is a need to upgrade our skills in dealing with illicit goods coming into Jamaica. More than that, there is the issue of bad goods coming into Jamaica that are not fit for consumption and are not as good as the genuine goods, and (the producers) are not paying any taxes,” said Neish.