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Push for act may lead to capital flight

Audley Shaw

Audley Shaw

KINGSTON — The government was expected to use its majority in parliament today to push through controversial amendments to the Revenue Administration Act.

But the move is likely to result in capital flight, as some business operators have expressed discomfort with the proposals and have indicated that they will move their funds from Jamaica.

At the same time, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party says it will mount a strong opposition to the Bill, which it insists will infringe on Jamaicans’ right to privacy and open the country to “Gestapo-like financial terrorism”.

“A number of businesses have expressed concern about the amendments and have indicated that they will pull their capital from Jamaica if the measures are approved,” a reliable private sector source admitted to the Jamaica Observer last night.

Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw said, while he had not heard of any such intention by the business sector, he would not be surprised.

“The length and breadth of the draconian possibilities that could be opened up by this legislation are unimaginable and unspeakable,” Shaw said. “It would make the days of the Financial Investigation Unit of the 1970s look like a joke, and it could open up the avenues for a Gestapo-like financial terrorism.”

The amendments will basically give the island’s tax authorities more power to access Jamaicans’ financial accounts with the aid of a court order.

They also provide for that information to be forwarded to foreign governments if requested.

Last night, Shaw referred to the tax authorities’ raid on telecoms giant Digicel in May 2012, noting that it was conducted with police armed with machine guns.

“Now they want more power, for instance, to determine that, if in their opinion they feel that someone might conceal information, that person must have no prior knowledge that they are coming at them. They want to be able to go to the court to get an order without first seeking information from the person,” Shaw said. (Observer)

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