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Cash to flow the way of PMI

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2015 | 11:06 PM

Cash to flow the way of PMI

Ryon Jones

Staff Reporter

National Security Minister Peter Bunting, recognising the importance of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), intends to allocate more money to the cash- strapped non-governmental organisation.

The PMI got $12 million from the Ministry of National Security last fiscal year to fund administrative cost, but Bunting is promising to more than double that amount from this year's budget.

"They (PMI) are very important; they have played a role over many years in interrupting the cycle of reprisal and counter reprisal between gangs and other warring groups within the communities that they operate," Bunting said.

"We are actually now going to increase the funding that we give to the PMI through both the budget of the ministry proper and through the Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), so that they can expand their work in violence interruption in additional communities within the parishes that they currently work. In terms of the ministry's funding I think that we will be probably doubling or more than doubling our commitment to them in the coming year."

The PMI, which was established in 2002 as an alternative approach to the use of force and to reduce violence in communities across Jamaica, has been struggling financially from the onset according to chairman, The Reverend Renard White.

"From day one we have really operated on a shoestring budget so to speak and have had to make do with what we have," White told The Sunday Gleaner. "If we had more resources we could do a lot more stuff. With the tightening financial situation it just exacerbates the matter. It has always been that we don't have enough funding and can't get all the people we want and so on and so forth, because funding is short."

White disclosed that though the PMI has been on the ground in communities such as Cassava Peace, New Haven and Spanish Town, which have had violent flare-ups since the start of the year, they have been limited in what they can do.

"We are on the ground, but we are limited as to what we can do," White said. "We have a lot of these areas plotted, we know things are happening, we have a lot of them as hotspots and so on, but it is difficult to cover all of them."

But with the promise of additional funding, White is hoping to implement some of the many ideas he and his team have, but were unable to implement due to a lack of funding.

"We have identified groups from several corners that we could take on residential retreats and so on and make a serious impact on them," White said. "Guys who used to never talk to each other and war with each other, getting them into settings like those and you would see some level of transformation. We would get them hooked up with mentors and so on and it would make a big difference, but we can only do so much of things like those. Those are important and beneficial things, but we are limited."

The PMI currently has five persons on staff with White keen to have that amount doubled.

But Bunting is also taking steps to remedy this issue, as several persons are being training.

"We have just conducted training for about 20 additional violence interrupters which will expand quite significantly their team," Bunting said. "We are also in dialogue with the European Union for giving them another cycle of funding as well. I think they will be able to scale up very significantly their interventions."