Given the significant amount of missing money (over US$4 billion) compared to the monthly cost to taxpayers of maintaining SSL operations (JMD$15 million, with JMD$9.5 million going to salaries), the government’s position becomes much harder to justify morally.
A few key points:
– The massive scale of fraud means the public interest is not served by keeping suspected fraudsters employed by taxpayers. The risks outweigh the benefits.
– Even if replacing the staff cost the full JMD$15 million per month, that is minor compared to US$4 billion stolen. It should not be an impediment to a proper investigation.
– There are likely lower-cost options, like selective replacement of key roles while keeping basic systems running. The government has not demonstrated it fully explored alternatives.
– The principle of not bailing out companies accused of fraud at public expense is understandable. But here, the public cost is minor compared to the losses. Some temporary public funding seems morally justified.
– The government promised a thorough investigation. Keeping all suspect staff employed undermines that. The benefits to the investigation should take priority.
In summary, while I appreciate the government’s desire to avoid disruptions and bailouts, the scale of losses here dwarfs the monthly costs. The moral imperative is to conduct a rigorous, independent investigation. That likely requires selective replacement of staff close to the fraud. The government has not adequately explored alternatives or balanced the significant public interest in recovering lost funds.