03 Mar Opposition Says Government is failing Exporters and Farmers
In the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the fees charged for exporters missing appointments accounts for a significant percentage of the 12% increase in revenue for the Plant Quarantine budget. The Opposition is concerned that this is an unfair and unnecessary income generating mechanism and should be repealed immediately. Deputy Spokesperson on Agriculture, Victor Wright is of the view that there is no need for an appointment system since there is a staffed facility at each international port where exporters can register their goods for service. This facility is opened every day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Therefore, exporters should be allowed to come in at any time during those hours and conduct their business. Applying a charge for being late (though the offices would be opened) acts as a disincentive to exporters.
The Deputy Spokesman is also concerned that there is an overall reduction of 25% in the recurrent budget for praedial larceny prevention, which will result in the reduction of staff. In addition, currently the unit has only on vehicle and there is also no provision for an increase in vehicles in the capital budget for additional vehicles. All of this against the background where the Minister of Agriculture, Karl Samuda, has committed his Ministry to reducing praedial larceny. MP Wright asks “how will Government achieve its target of protecting our hardworking farmers from praedial larceny when they have reduced the budget, are planning to reduce the staff complement of the responsible unit and they are adding no additional vehicles to the fleet complement of one in order that the unit can be effective?”. The Opposition believes that the farmers of Jamaica need some clarity on the matter and deserve the support of the Government of Jamaica in protecting their livelihood. Certainly, we cannot eat what we grow and grow what we eat if Government is complicit in farmers falling prey to praedial larceny by the Government’s inaction.