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Montague to seek waivers for CCTV imports for JamaicaEye initiative

Senior staff reporter

Friday, March 16, 2018

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Minister of National Security Robert Montague, says that his ministry is negotiating with the Ministry of Finance to have General Consumption Tax (GCT) and Special Consumption Tax (SCT) and duties waived for the importation of closed circuit television (CCTV) equipment, to support the ministry's JamaicaEye initiative.

Montague emphasised, however, that to benefit from a waiver the purchasers must place their cameras in the JamaicaEye system.

“We are urging every member of the public, anywhere in Jamaica, so long as you have a camera, to give permission and give us your CCTV feed. If you want to put a CCTV system so long as it is digital we can accept the feed,” Montague told the audience at the launch of the initiative at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston on Wednesday.

“You don't have to go out and buy an expensive camera; we accept the feed from all digitised cameras,” he stated.

“We believe that the JamaicaEye initiative is the thread that will tie our crime reduction strategy together,” he added.

The private sector also gave its blessings to the initiative, which is aimed at creating an integrated CCTV system focusing on crime, natural disasters and road traffic issues.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell told Wednesday's launch of the project at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston that it was critical to survival in a world that is becoming increasingly knowledge-based.

“Data gathering and the sharing of knowledge are critical to knowledge-based activities and we will not see any progress or prosperity unless we develop our knowledge-based competence,” Mitchell stated.

He said that the PSOJ takes its responsibility as the premier umbrella group for the private sector very seriously, and that it was no secret the organisation had been critical of Jamaica's security management and strategy over the years, in terms of its impact on the country.

“Therefore it is important that when we see a strategy or action that is comprehensively effective and will make impact, that we endorse it. We give full praise for its origination and its implementation,” he said.

“We believe that this particular programme is vital not only for the impact it can have on crime, but invariably because it shows what participatory democracy can do, and I want to congratulate the minister, because I know of his commitment to participatory democracy. He has never been shy to include all in his planning and his deliberations and that alone will make this programme effective, and will serve as a template for all activities in Government and in civil society,” he added.

Mitchell was supported by Lieutenant Commander George Overton, who is director of operations at the Guardsman Group and a former head of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security (JSIS), the umbrella body for security companies in Jamaica

Lt Commander Overton said that there is wide acceptance of the need for CCTV systems as a deterrent to crime, and to facilitate almost immediatly on-site assessment of events as well as being an effective tool in investigating incidents of crime.

He said that he welcomed the buy-in in terms of a public/private partnership supporting the initiative, and congratulated Montague for “coming out of the box”, after many years of private/public discussions and indecision about a CCTV system.

“Minister, today you have come out of the box. You have embraced that public/private partnership and you are rolling out something that at the get go you have the public infrastructure connected, and you have some private infrastructure connected. That is commendable and I congratulate you for that,” he said.

He said that with the launch of the initiative, all that is necessary now is for the public to buy into the concept and support its development.

“Today I call on every citizens' association, every industrial partner, industrial complex, every commercial activity and almost every Neighbourhood Watch to commit at least two cameras to this programme across the island,” Overton suggested.

He also appealed to the hospitality business community to commit to contributing “at least four or five cameras” to the public space surrounding their properties, so that the law enforcement agencies and those who are challenged to enforce the anti-harassment programme in resort areas can do their job more effectively.

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