Government makes massive crime-fighting investment

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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The Government will be spending approximately $5.5 billion more in the 2016/17 budget to increase the capacity of the security forces to combat crime and violence.


The figure includes $2.93 billion to be spent on improving the security of the country’s borders and reducing its vulnerability to the importation of guns and the trafficking of drugs.


This was revealed in the first supplementary estimates tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday by Finance Minister Audley Shaw, will be used to purchase and overhaul both aircraft and ships used in operations by the Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing and Coast Guard.


There is also an additional allocation of $120 million, sourced from the Tourism Enhancement Fund, boosting budgetary resources to equip the police with a much-needed modern telecommunication system to $975 million; and $180 million to accommodate improvements to the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine to expand the forensic capacity of the security forces.


The police department is being given an additional $1.94 billion in housekeeping resources, including $767 million to improve direction and management, $401 million more for compensation, $221 million to purchase goods and services, as well as $129 million to cover police operations, and $569 million more to cover general police functions.


An additional $223 million has also been included to cover compensation for district constables, $164 million more for police stores and armoury, and $58 million for repair services.


Adult correctional institutions also got their share, with $289 million more, including $96 million for the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre; $53 million for the St Catherine centre; $61 million for the other correctional centres; and $23 million for the Horizon Remand Centre.


But there were also major increases for socially responsive ministries, such as education, youth and information, which got $3.3 billion more for housekeeping costs and $175 million for capital expenditure; and the Ministry of Health, which received $4 billion more in funding for housekeeping needs.


The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation is being given $614.6 million more for housekeeping and $2.9 billion in capital expenditure, including $1.1 billion for islandwide disaster mitigation and $1.3billion in multilateral aid for spending on the Major Infrastructure Development Programme, the successor to the Jamaica Infrastructure Development Programme.


The Ministry of Transport and Mining will receive $1 billion for housekeeping, plus another $1 billion for capital expenditure, including $710 million to pay for spare parts of Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses and $400 million to the Portmore Transportation Hub.


The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is receiving approximately $1 billion to cover the cost of the recent local government elections. Social security programmes in the OPM have also been boosted through multilateral funding totalling $216 million.


The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service suffered the most serious cut in resources, with $16 billion slashed from its housekeeping resources, and just over $2 billion from its capital funding.


The additional expenditure will boost government spending for 2016/17 from approximately $580 billion to $592.7 billion, a $12.8 billion increase that comprised $8.6 billion more in capital expenditure and $4.1 more in recurrent or housekeeping costs.


The Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, which is chaired by Opposition MP Dr Wykeham McNeill, will meet this morning at Gordon House to review the estimates, which are to be approved at next Tuesday’s meeting of the House of Representatives.

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