Pay raise critical for success of planned security reforms

-Private Sector

The Private Sector Commis-sion (PSC) yesterday welcomed the government’s announced national security reforms, but it warned that success would rest on increasing wages for members of the disciplined services.

The umbrella body sounded its “deep satisfaction” at the scope of the reforms proposed under government’s Public Safety and Security Strategy, unveiled by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee on Monday, but called for higher pay to be given urgent attention.

For the plans to be successful, the PSC said in a statement, they must be augmented by lifting of the level of remuneration for all personnel in the police, prison and fire services, which are expected to be overhauled under the five-year strategy. It went further and called on the government to treat higher remuneration as a priority in order to attract new recruits and build pride in the services. “Many ranks do not earn a wage capable of supporting a family and we are concerned, that the pace of reform may be adversely affected, or falter, if attention is not paid to this critical issue,” it warned.

Noting that the reform programme is geared towards critical changes for the promotion of effectiveness, efficiency and the overall strengthening of public security, the PSC also emphasised that the changes could only be fully realised if they receive the support of all Guyanese. “The PSC views the proposed reform as critical for the protection of the citizenry, the promotion of foreign and local investments and the improvements in the livelihoods of all Guyanese,” it added, while urging the public to pay keen attention to the measures being proposed and to appreciate the intended reforms.

Raising pay levels was not addressed in Rohee’s presentation on the strategy, which has drawn guarded support from the opposition. Although both APNU and the AFC have said they support security reform, they have signalled their unwillingness to back plans under Rohee’s stewardship of the sector.

The two parties last year used their majority in the National Assembly to carry a no-confidence motion against him, citing his record since his appointment. Among the plans announced by Rohee on Monday was for civilian oversight of the implementation of police reform, the possible hiring of foreign police officers to serve as consultants for crucial reorganisation and more local and overseas training for all disciplined service ranks.

The PSC said it supports the hiring of international police officers as consultants to speed up the transfer of skills and expertise, which together with the much greater emphasis on training and exposure to sophisticated international policing practices will assist in bringing the police force to a standard second to none.

“The involvement of a professional civilian component in the administration and implementation of the five-year Strategic Plan and beyond will be of tremendous benefit and will improve overall efficiency,” it declared.

The fact that the reform programme goes beyond the police force to address other facets of the security sector, such as the prison service, the fire Service, community policing groups as well as the umbrella agency, the Ministry of Home Affairs, was also highlighted by the PSC. Apart from the proposed reforms for the disciplined services, it noted the plans for the introduction of “Houses of Justice,” which will bring together institutions responsible for social service and public safety under the same roof, in remote areas, as well as a move to strengthen Neigh-bourhood Policing Groups as one of the initiatives to aid in the reduction of domestic violence and child abuse.

Earlier this week, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry also welcomed the plan and urged all groups to support its implementation.

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