Budget bite of $5.5B for national security

“I am at a loss for words,” he said. “at $5.5 billion, if I don’t solve crime in this country nobody else can. I am flabbergasted. I am very, very pleased. This is the people’s Budget. We have taken care of everyone in society. I feel real energised to go out there and put my powers to fight crime.”

The allocation to Warner’s ministry is the largest ever handed to the Security portfolio. The allocation in 2012 was $5.1 billion; in 2011 $4.7 billion; 2010 was $4.1 billion. In 2009, the allocation was $4.7 billion.

The allocation is also the largest for the ministry since the allocation for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service was removed from its remit. The TTPS has its own allocation since 2011.

This year, the TTPS also gets its largest ever allocation since being made its own accounting head: $1.7 billion. The allocation in 2011 was $1.4 billion.

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams – who is currently on official business in the United Kingdom – yesterday said the TTPS has a responsibility to use whatever resources are allocated to its efficiently.

“Right now, the Commissioner of Police is the accounting officer for the TTPS,” he said. “The budgetary allocation that is made available, is for the commissioner to manage in an efficient and effective manner, to bring to bear on the police service and impact the management of crime to, ultimately, create a safer environment. Whatever is allocated, it is my responsibility and that of the staff to manage it efficiently, and effectively.”

In his Budget, Minister of Finance and the Economy Larry Howai noted crime remains an imped-

iment to economic growth.

“The crime situation remains troubling and deeply worrisome,” Howai said at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, where he presented his maiden budget.

“We recognise that the early reduction of the statistics in this area is an important pre-condition for economic growth. We have therefore established the goal of reducing violent crimes by 50.0 percent within the next three years.”

He said joint army patrols would have to continue, and unveiled an array of measure, meant to bolster the protective services.

“The joint army/police patrols deployed in hotspots have demonstrated the efficacy of strong, well-targeted law enforcement measures. We will continue this initiative,” he said. “We have accordingly commenced the process of implementing a sophisticated communication and logistical coordination system, to facilitate more co-ordinated and effective responses by the police service.

“Police vehicles are now being equipped with GPS technology. Seventy-five police charge rooms are currently being computerised. Video conferencing is now being made available, and evidence-based policing, using scientific methods for solving crime is being strengthened.”

Highway patrols would return, he said. He remarked, “We will be re-introducing dedicated police highway patrols, and establishing 32 Community Police Units in key areas to increase police presence in high-risk areas. We shall establish fixed joint service units in hot spot areas, a strategy that is already producing results as we have recently seen. There has not been a single murder in Laventille for 22 days.”

There would be a new training facility for security services.

“In order to improve the competency level of the protective services, we are commencing the construction and outfitting of a National Security Training Academy. This institution would provide all aspects of training required to bring our law enforcement officials up to the required standard for 21st century policing,” he said.

There will be incentives to Special Reserve Police as well as to home-owners seeking to buy CCTV cameras.

“We have initiated programmes to enhance the criminal justice system,” Howai said. “These programmes include: support for victims of crime, rehabilitation of prisoners, strengthening of non-governmental organisations, and training for prisons officers.”

Of SRPs, Howai said, ““To further bolster these initiatives the Ministry of National Security is ensuring that morale in the protective services is fostered and enhanced. I propose to extend the non-taxable special allowance which is being paid to all members of the protective services, to all Special Reserve Police Officers. This measure will be effective October 1, 2012. Let us never forget how important a role the protective service play in defence of the nation.”

In addition, “as a measure to assist with community security, I propose to exempt from customs duties and Value Added Tax the purchase of CCTV cameras.”

He added, “We have conceptualised and commenced implementation of a new naval operations plan to combat the drug trade, and we have developed a number of social interventions, aimed at our most vulnerable and underprivileged communities.”


"Budget bite of $5.5B for national security"

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