Illicit America St activities pose law enforcement problems -Jardim

Stabroek News
September 27, 1999

The unregulated illegal activities in America Street are a source of the law enforcement problems facing the police, according to Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), George Jardim. In a telephone interview with the Stabroek News yesterday, he said

that there is a widely held perception that based on the anecdotal evidence of the number of buildings going up around the country that there is a large amount of illegal funds slushing around in society. He made the comments in relation to Wednesday's dramatic robbery on America Street.

Jardim stressed, however, that it is a matter of levelling the playing field, explaining that the businessmen who operate legitimately cannot compete with those who circumvent the Customs regime.

The government, the PSC head pointed out, needs to ensure that it can widen the tax base. He said that there was a tremendous amount of smuggling going on in Berbice as well as in Essequibo where a large amount of fuel is being brought into the country.

These are things the PSC head says should be taken into account by the revenue agencies. However, Jardim noted that if there is a shortage of revenue there would not be any money to pay for the required reforms. "It is a chicken and an egg story."

Jardim said that the PSC has been advocating for some time now the establishment of a Revenue Authority divorced from politics and all the other day-to-day interferences from various sources. Such an authority he said would help to widen the tax base which would lead to a reduction of the tax paid by the individual.

Rustum Bulkan of Precision Woodworking Limited and a member of the executive committee of the Guyana Manufacturers' Association (GMA), agrees that all businesses should be regulated, stressing the importance of an audit trail for all transactions.

However, he told Stabroek News that the pressing demand is for the provision of security for all members of the society including the business community, particularly since some businesses by their very nature legitimately require large amounts of cash to be on hand.

Mohabir Singh, another executive member of the GMA, also expressed concern about the ability of the police to deal with the spate of brutal crimes. He said that he was appalled by the statement made by the Commissioner of Police, Laurie Lewis, that the police are outgunned by the bandits.

Singh said that the statement by Lewis is an admission that the state is no longer able to protect its citizens.

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