Montague defends reduction in national security spending
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Opposition spokesman on national security Peter Bunting says the Budget for the Ministry of National Security did not reflect public security as a priority of the Andrew Holness administration.
Commenting on the allocation for the ministry in the Estimates of Expenditure for the 2017-2018 financial year, Bunting said both the capital and recurrent expenditures have been reduced by about $2 billion when compared to the allocations for the current 2016-2017 Budget.
Responding to his counterpart, National Security Minister Robert Montague said the Government spent $2 billion to acquire two ships which were commissioned on Tuesday.
"While we understand the question you are asking, I would say to you, member from Central Manchester, you should ask the minister before me why he did not buy these ships so that we could use the money to do other things," Montague said in addressing Bunting, his predecessor.
Fielding questions on Tuesday during a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament, Montague said there was a reduction on the recurrent side of the budget because the ministry had to make one-off payments based on the Heads of Agreement with the various bargaining units within the ministry.
In addition, Montague said senior police officers, some who retired from 2012, had to be paid the sum of $304 million. The Ministry of National Security received $56.4 billion for recurrent expenditure and $4.25 billion for capital projects in the 2017-2018 Budget.