Fraud in the farmer’s ID System helping to support thieves – Senator Bruce
Opposition Senator, Israel Bruce
February 27, 2024
Fraud in the farmer’s ID System helping to support thieves – Senator Bruce

Opposition Senator, Israel Bruce has expressed concern about inadequate audits of the Farmers’ ID system which he claims is leading to increased incidents of praedial larceny.

“Persons who are in possession of Farmers’ ID cards and know that they are not farmers…you should do the right thing and hand in those cards to the relevant authorities. I want to say to current state officials who know that they are facilitating persons who are not farmers with farmers’ ID’s, I want you to recognize that you are doing the farmers and fisherfolk of St Vincent and the Grenadines a disservice.”

Speaking at a New Democratic Party (NDP) press conference on Wednesday February 21, 2024, Senator Bruce said that anecdotal evidence points to persons stealing produce from farmers who legitimize the sale of the stolen goods by way of the ID card, in addition to using the ID cards to gain duty-free allowances.

“A number of these farmers and fisherfolk who are not bonafide…use it to assist the people who are involved in praedial larceny to sell all the items that they have stolen. Those who are assisting in getting the ID’s are aiding and abetting criminal activities against farmers and fisherfolk,” he charged.

Senator Bruce pointed to the dissolution of the Rural Constable Programme and lack of police presence in rural areas noting that this was an invitation to praedial larcenists to engage in criminal activities.

He also claimed that when farmers and fisherfolk are affected by theft it takes “forever” for them to receive justice.

Bruce outlined plans by the New Democratic Party to address issues affecting the agriculture sector, which includes reviving the Rural Constable Programme, noting that the old programme failed because it was not properly resourced.

He also said he is aware of plans to remove the administration of the ID system from within the Ministry of Agriculture, but highlighted there was “some push back” by the department’s staff.

“If there are plans afoot to remove that programme from where it is currently administered and take it to a separate department within the ministry with the purpose of enhancing the programme, I welcome the move. If the move is to perpetuate the continuation of the fraud…I want to say to you I am aware of the plan.”