Bunting wants $2b more to fight crime
McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor - Business
The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) has committed to hold discussions with the Ministry of Finance and Planning to determine whether revenues could be more efficiently spent to allocate more towards crime fighting.
The move comes in the wake of a presentation by National Security Minister Peter Bunting to a meeting of EPOC, which he used to sensitise members about the need to put more resources in the fight against crime in order to facilitate economic growth.
"We undertook to have discussions with the Ministry of Finance and Planning to see whether there were not areas in which we could be a little bit more efficient in how we spent the national Budget in order to facilitate more to be spent on ... crime fighting," co-chairman of EPOC, Richard Byles, said yesterday.
While he did not apparently recall the precise figure, Byles said he believed the minister said about $2 billion a year more would be required to put the police fleet back to where it is required to boost crime fighting.
The Ministry of National Security was allocated $47.17 billion for recurrent expenditure and $3.2 billion for capital expenditure for fiscal year 2014-2015.
"We had a visit at EPOC by Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, who came specifically to sensitise EPOC to the very direct relationship between economic growth and crime," Byles told a press briefing at Sagicor Life Jamaica in New Kingston.
Crime rate vs growth
He said Bunting pointed to a study published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica which stated that if Jamaica could reduce the crime rate to that of Costa Rica, it would add 5.4 per cent per annum growth to the nation's gross domestic product.
"This is just tremendous. This is what everybody wants, and indeed when you look at the Global Competitiveness Report, the number one inhibitor to our competitiveness is crime," he said.
"So the minister came to plead his case and to sensitise the EPOC to the need to put more resources in the fight against crime in order to facilitate economic growth. And I can tell you, in the tourism business, which Sagicor has some interest in, that ... crime certainly impacts the rates that we get and the image that the country has in the global marketplace," said Byles, president and chief executive officer of Sagicor Group Jamaica.