Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Holness seeks public understanding of budgetary dilemma in fight against crime

Published:Friday | June 16, 2017 | 6:00 AMPaul Clarke
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) in discussion with (from left) Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, minister of state in the ministry of national security; Raymond Kelly, former NYPD commissioner; General Rosso José Serrano, security and international cooperation adviser for Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Robert Montague, minister of national security, at the opening ceremony of the Multilateral Summit on Combating Crime in an Interconnected World at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging Jamaicans to accept that less money will ultimately be spent in some areas as funds are reallocated to fight the massive crime problem now facing the nation.

"If gangs or crews are your most critical threat, then shouldn't you make allocations from your Budget to reflect [that]? That is the problem politicians face. How to convince the public that the threats that are critical to them should align to the budgetary allocation," Holness said.

"So in as much as there may be public outcry about crime, for you to shift the Budget to reflect that, to give national security an increase in a limited fiscal space, it means that something else would have to be found. And so the role of the politician is not to be involved in determining operations, but we have to build public understanding to shift the resources to reflect the national threat that crime, in particular gangs and illegal guns, pose to the country," he said.

The prime minister was delivering the keynote address to delegates at yesterday's opening of the two-day Multilateral Summit on Crime at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston under the theme 'Combating Crime in an Interconnected World'.

 

STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE

 

Approximately 640 persons have been murdered in Jamaica since the start of the year, and Holness is of the view that striking the right balance is critical to helping push the anti-gang, anti-crime strategy.

"At present, there is a strong debate because whenever there is a question of enforcement and intelligence gathering, there is the question of human rights and privacy rights. Countries like Jamaica and of our regional partners face the same issue of how we strike the right balance," Holness said.

National Security Minister Robert Montague pointed out that globalisation has diversified criminal activities in countries across the world, making it more difficult to stem crime trends.

"Transnational criminal organisations have, essentially, taken advantage of an increasingly interconnected world to expand their illicit enterprises. They are not only expanding their operations, they are also diversifying their activities, resulting in a convergence of transnational threats that has evolved to become more complex, volatile, and destabilising," Montague told the summit.

He noted that the Government is focused on removing illegal guns from off the streets, as well as on putting an end to the deadly lottery scam.

"While our number-one priority is to reduce illegal guns and ammunition, tackling corruption within the security forces, and eliminating lottery scamming, it should be noted that enhancing social-intervention strategies to stem the flow of young Jamaicans into gangs is also a twin priority of this Government," the minister said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com