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Crime does pay!


Crime does pay!

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IS THE OLD DICTUM “Crime does not pay” really true? 

The recent brouhaha over the habits of the coconut vendors made me consider the question asked above. Whilst the actions of the coconut vendors might not be construed as a crime in the strictest and legal sense of the word, they do put the health of the general populace at risk, and that to my mind makes it a crime.

It is, however, a situation which could and should have been solved by the relevant agencies of the Ministry of Health (MOH) ab initio without any fanfare, but for some reason or for reasons best known to them, it has been allowed to escalate out of all proportion.

It is not unusual for the Ministry of Health to post notices on premises which they consider a threat to public health with the accompanying threat of court action.

I have seen environmental officers (whom we called health inspectors in days of yore) from the MOH close down operations of food vendors on Spring Garden during the Crop Over Festival because the items on display did not meet the required standards. Food destined for the corporate suites, including the Prime Ministerial Suite at Kensington Oval, has been condemned and dumped by these officers.

Pray tell me why it is so difficult to put a stop to those vendors who flout the law so flagrantly? They make a living at the expense of the health of the general public and are offended by calls for them to do so in sanitary conditions.

If the same situation occurred at one of the business premises in Bridgetown, the MOH would have moved with alacrity to have it corrected by the offending proprietor on pain of prosecution.

In most instances, the said proprietor would most likely have been paying the NIS contributions for his staff as well as his other statutory obligations, but that would not have deterred the MOH in making its decision.

It seems to me that those who abide by the law tend to suffer more than those who do not. 

When the Barbados Development Bank was going through its death throes and there was “talk” of forgiving the debts of those who were delinquent (especially the small black men), one of Barbados’ most prominent businessmen was heard to quip that it does not make sense to operate a profitable enterprise and pay your taxes when you can obtain a loan, renege on its payments and then have it forgiven.

Failure in any guise to do the right thing, whether it is by the coconut vendors, corporate entities or the proverbial man in the street, should be condemned, and until we are prepared to do so and act upon it, crime will continue to pay.