It is with great satisfaction that I read in the various print media: “Govt to name and shame non-compliant security firms – Minister Hamilton.”
This sense of gratification and triumph is particularly owing to the fact that I, the undersigned, have religiously advocated for similar actions to be taken against security firms and others known to abuse and manipulate NIS, PAYE, and VAT. I have penned several missives and spoken out virtually to the relevant authorities to have them take a stand on this despicable and deplorable action.
I therefore take this opportunity to commend the Minister of Labour, Honourable Mr Joseph Hamilton, for his farsightedness and for taking the much-needed stance on this issue.
However, while I applaud the Honourable Minister for saying that these security firms would be named and shamed, I believe that we need stricter means to nip this disgusting practice in the bud.
I say this because some people are bereft of shame. We have seen one company, after robbing workers of billions of dollars in NIS and PAYE, and after having never paid corporate taxes, declaring bankruptcy after decades of being in business, and then restarting with a new name while continuing the same despicable practices.
Because of incidents like this one, it is my view that if the law does not allow for imprisonment, then these people need to be charged for fraud privately, until the law is changed. It is the only way to bring a semblance of respect and decency to some security firms which are bent on thievery to make big money, destroying the lives of our workers and putting pressure on our social security system.
I reiterate: if you cannot jail them, then private criminal charges must be imposed. I have already proposed this in an article: “Blacklist/Jail companies known for their deceit,” which was graciously published in the November 22nd, 2020 edition of <<Guyana Times>>, Kaieteur News, and Guyana Chronicle respectively.
These measures are needed now more than ever, as we are seeing more and more security services tendering below cost and subsequently stealing VAT, workers’ NIS, and not paying annual taxes.
These security firms have ways and means of getting certain contracts, or getting away with their corrupt dealings. With more than 200 security firms operating in Guyana, it would seem that obtaining a security licence is as simple as opening a street-side cake shop. Opening a security firm should be like getting a bank licence for banking operations – hard and rare!
Not just every Tom, Dick, and Harry uses security to arm themselves; drug traffickers and money laundering professionals in particular take advantage of the loopholes in the Security Company Policy to procure weapons, while legitimate security firms are left in limbo or are wiped out. I recall when the former Minister of Labour, Mr. Keith Scott, called in security firms to speak with them. While doing so, no respect was shown to the Honourable Minister by some of these firms.
Further to the Minister of Labour taking a stance on this issue, I was extremely proud of His Excellency President Dr. Irfaan Ali making a stern statement on this matter and raising the concern of security wages and NIS for workers in Regions Six and Two.
Mr President, I must say that, sadly, this is a matter that is prevalent throughout the nation. These firms are bidding below cost so that they can steal workers’ NIS, and subsequently placing pressure on the Government’s social security system. Sadly, this habit has also ruined the lives of many.
Given these unethical practices, I propose that the lowest tenders/offers should never be the criterion for awarding Government contracts, particularly in the case of labour.
Roshan Khan Snr