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$2 billion cut in security budget one reason behind murder increase charges Phillips

Published:Monday | July 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Tamara Bailey, Gleaner writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:
Leader of the opposition Dr Peter Phillips is adamant that the alarming increase in murders in the Jamaica since the start of this year could have been avoided if careful consideration was made in casting the budget for the security forces.

"The whole Opposition said it, you cannot cut $2 billion from the security budget and don't expect that crime is going to get worse in the country," Phillips charged at a PNP constituency conference in Central Manchester yesterday.

National Security Minister Robert Montague has repeatedly argued that the $2 billion cut in the budget for the police for this fiscal year reflected one off payments for two ships which were acquired last year on the capital side and 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.

But this has not satisfied the opposition and Phillips continued the criticisms yesterday as he chided Prime Minister Andrew Holness over his recent suggestion that the finance ministry might have to recast the budget for the security forces.

According to Phillips this indicated inexperience and incompetence.

"They either don't know what they are doing or they are not telling the truth, because it doesn't take a genius to understand that you needed to give the security forces a budget and it was passed three months ago, so why come three months after to say you will have to recast the budget. Cast the budget the right way in the first instance," said Phillips.

The opposition leader further criticised the administration for its decision to purchase used vehicles for the police while new vehicles were bought for government ministers.  He argued that this decision was unfair and nonsensical.