Wealthy people who engage in praedial larceny should be jailed, not just fined, Member of Parliament Marsha Caddle declared on Tuesday.
She said that while the new maximum fine of $100 000 under the Protection of Agricultural Products Bill, 2022 is substantial, it might not be a deterrent for people who have significant financial resources.
While leading off debate on the Bill in the House of Assembly, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir said it was proposed that the maximum fine for persons found guilty of stealing crops or livestock would be increased from $5 000 to $100 000, and/or five years imprisonment.
However, Caddle said in some instances a period of incarceration was necessary.
“I even question the $100 000 fine or the five years imprisonment because some of these thieves are wealthy and they can easily pay $100 000 and go tomorrow and thief again…. We have to understand that we are dealing with people with different levels of economic capacity and that is important.
“But I believe that when it comes down to the discretion of the judge in the case, that some of these individuals we may have to imprison, and I am talking about people with means,” Caddle reiterated.
“Bearing in mind that these are individuals of means who themselves are very organised and have large vehicles and refrigerator trucks and all kinds of things to be able to go and slaughter and then move the meat, I mean these things are sophisticated operations. So, I hope that for some of these cases when we appreciate that an individual is a person of means to whom a $100 000 fine means nothing, that we set an example by perhaps introducing a penalty that they will feel more,” she added.
Caddle said she was pleased with the start in tackling the serious problem of praedial larceny.
She said it would eventually come down to its “execution” and being able to send a “stronger signal to this underground market that exists that we are no longer tolerating this”. (RB)