Sun | Nov 28, 2021

1,000 cars for cops, facelift for stations

Published:Friday | March 8, 2019 | 12:16 AM

The Government plans to shell out close to $3 billion to acquire 1,000 new motor vehicles for the police and carry out much-needed repairs at 60 police stations islandwide during the upcoming financial year.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, who made the announcement yesterday, said the allocation would also finance the construction of two new police stations in Spanish Town and the Westmoreland capital of Savanna-la-Mar.

The move to improve mobility and accommodation for the police comes as the Ministry of National Security, led by Dr Horace Chang, received the largest chunk of the capital budget for the 2019-2020 financial year, which begins on April 1.

A total of $72.1 billion has been allocated for capital expenditure projects, a five per cent rise when compared to last year. The Ministry of National Security gets $20.2 billion, representing an increase of $7.5 billion, or 61 per cent over last year’s revised expenditure.

Clarke, who was making his maiden Budget presentation as finance minister, said the dedication of significant resources to national security reflects the Government’s conviction that Jamaica’s crime problem was a significant source of inequity.

“Jamaicans who live in areas that are subject to consistent violence or under the control of organised crime are denied an equal chance in life due to the restrictive nature of pervasive violent crime,” he asserted.

“They are victims of unequal access to services and unequal opportunities in the workplace. If we care about equity and justice, Mr Speaker, we must care about national security, not for some, but for all,” Clarke insisted.

He said a total of $11.8 billion has been set aside to continue the acquisition of specialised equipment for the security forces, including coastal surveillance, telecommunications, and cyberintelligence equipment.

Clarke said $1.8 billion would be used to purchase patrol and other security vehicles for the Jamaica Constabulary Force. “Brand-new cars, brand-new cars,” he insisted, marking a shift from the botched used-car policy that was attempted by Robert Montague, former minister of national security.

He said $1 billion has been allocated for the renovation of police stations, a sore point for rank-and-file police personnel, while $2.9 billion has been set aside to complete construction of Lathbury Barracks, located at the army’s Up Park Camp headquarters; the first phase of Burke Barracks, based in St James; and the upgrading of the army’s Moneague Training Camp.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com