NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe. Photo: Austin Fernander
By LETRE SWEETING
Tribune Staff Reporter
AUTHORITIES are seeing an increase in the unlicensed use of national symbols, with National Security Minister Wayne Munroe warning that unsanctioned use of symbols could prompt a $250 fine or a six months prison sentence.
The Ministry of National Security released a statement yesterday noting that people using national symbols on merchandise connected to business or jobs must obtain a license or written permission from the minister.
Mr Munroe told The Tribune: “The Officer-in-Charge of the area indicated that they’re improving enforcement of the symbols and they were noticing that there are a lot of items coming out with a flag or a Coat of Arms, and they had no record of having received an application or approval so just physically the public servants seeing it and knowing that that hadn’t come in is what prompted them to address it.”
A licence to use national symbols can be approved after applying to the ministry and paying $20. The licence would be valid from January 1 to December 31 of each year, no matter when permission is obtained.
Mr Munroe stressed that those violating the law need to comply quickly. “The cost of (a licence) is $20 right, so let’s assume you have, out of ignorance, offended the law; it just takes $20 to come in compliance,” he said.
“Now there are some uses that we don’t approve, if it would put the flag or the coat-of-arms in a degrading light. So, if you want to have a rag for people to clean their cars with the Bahamian flag, we’re not going to approve. But most things within reason are approved and if persons are currently in breach of the law, it only takes an application to the ministry and $20 to come into alignment.”
Mr Munroe said the application process for the licence would be digitalized.
“Like any crime, it’s enforced in so far as you’re able to detect people breaching the law and then go ahead to enforce it,” he said. “(The police) have been tasked with putting a proposal forward. “So whether you use the police to go around businesses and see if anybody is displaying goods that are not approved or things that are not approved; I know they’ve started doing web searches to see online if things advertised have been approved. It’s a policing issue.”