by Linda Straker
- Tax Administration Bill and Road Traffic Amendment Act separate and apart
- Tax Administration Bill and amendment to Road Traffic legislation approved on same day
- Arbitrary increase of bus/taxi fees only thing that speaks to an offence in Traffic Amendment Bill
- Road Traffic legislation amendment provides for Transport Commission to replace Transport Board
Transportation Minister Norland Cox has refuted claims that recent amendments to the 2016 Tax Administration legislation will provide for drivers who choose to go to court over fixed traffic tickets instead of paying the ticket will get a criminal record.
In recent days, the trending topic on social media platforms was the claim that challenging a traffic ticket in the court would create a criminal record, if the claimant chose to have a magistrate court settle the matter.
Garth Woodroffe, President of the Grand Anse Bus Association, in a news conference last Sunday said that to the best of his knowledge, a fixed penalty is normal for traffic offences. “We need clarity about this Tax Administration bill.”
Minister Cox addressed the matter during Tuesday’s post-Cabinet briefing and said the issue of the Tax Administration Bill has nothing to do with the Road Traffic Amendment Act. “They are separate and apart. The only thing that speaks to an offence in the Traffic Amendment Bill is if someone was to arbitrarily increase bus fees and taxi fees, that will become an offence.”
The Tax Administration Bill was approved in the Senate on 10 November 2020, the same day that parliamentarians approved an amendment to the Road Traffic legislation. That amendment provides the legal mandate to establish a Transport Commission which will replace the Transport Board. The Board was an advisory board to the Minister for Transportation, the Transport Commission will be a statutory body to regulate road transportation.
The Tax Administration bill was presented in by Senator Winston Garraway who informed the House that Government is introducing a new format of paying tax by issuing tickets to those who have accepted that they have violated the existing tax regulations, but will accept a fine to conclude the negotiation. The new option, Garraway explained will be like the ticketing system used by the Traffic Department.
“So, what we have in the traffic as the ticketing system, a fixed penalty ticketing system, this is what clause 4 seeks to introduce,” Garraway told the Parliament by way of an example. “This is to ensure a form is brought into the sphere and the fixed penalty system can be introduced to persons who for one reason or the another are not complying with the regulations, and have admitted guilt and may not want to go court, can pay a fixed penalty and move on,” he said.