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At whose cost will the new prison be manned?

Published:Wednesday | September 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The announcement by the BBC of the British Government's decision to construct a prison in Jamaica at a cost of £25 million will certainly generate some public discussions. The British is making this economic decision based on a cost-benefit analysis, as it is projected to save them approximately £10 million yearly in costs associated with housing the 600 Jamaican prisoners in England.

There is no doubt that the £25 million will generate needed jobs in Jamaica, particulars persons trained in construction, engineering and transportation. The multiplier effects on the Jamaican economy will be positive. Assuming 80 per cent of this amount is consumed by persons engaged directly or indirectly in the construction of the prison, the bottom line on the economy will be approximately £125 million.

In spite of these potential spin offs, our Government should consider carefully, the future recurrent expenses associated with operating the prison, which it may be called upon to financed. These costs include utilities, meals for the prisoners, wages to correctional officers and general maintenance, just to name a few. On whose budget will these expenditure fall? The British or ours? Let us try to understand these figures by examining meal related expenditure. If it costs $400 per day to feed a prisoner in Jamaica and 300 prisoners are sent to Jamaica under this arrangement, it will cost the taxpayers of this country approximately $44 million annually. ($400 x 300 x 365 days). An additional 30 correctional officers to man the new prison, each earning J$1.2 million in salary, will cost us a further J$36 million annually. So I am theorising that the people of Jamaica can expect a further recurrent expenditure of approximately $150 - $200 million annually to operate and maintain this new prison facility.

I am, therefore, urging the government to carefully take into consideration our financial costs associated with this agreement. The British government has done their computation and have clearly established that their investment of £25 million in Jamaica will be recouped in 30 months! What is our financial analysis indicating?