$16.2B budgeted for security sector

-five-year strategy being crafted, Singh says

Government has allocated $16.2 billion to the continued modernisation of the security sector in this year’s budget and the Joint Services will receive a large percentage of this sum to purchase equipment.

Last year’s figure was $15.3 billion.

Finance Minister Ashni Singh during an almost three hour long budget presentation said that to consolidate the gains of previous years’ investment as well as to ensure the continual improvement of the sector,  a 2012-2016 strategic plan is currently being drafted for future implementation.

He said that this year’s allotment is for “the continued modernisation of the security sector and in the area of infrastructure, key investments will result in substantially modernised facilities.” It was pointed out that among these modernised facilities is the forensic laboratory, which when completed will result in improved investigative capability supported by analyses in the areas of toxicology, histology, chemistry, biology and DNA, several of which were never before available in Guyana. This, he said, will allow for greater timeliness and effectiveness in investigations of criminal activities.

Further, the construction of the fire service training school at Leonora with live-in accommodation for 55 persons along with two lecture halls and training tarmac will continue, Singh said, while adding that the new fire station at Diamond will be operationalised sometime this year.

The Joint Services, he said, will also benefit from $949 million to purchase and maintain equipment for the security sector to ensure its continued modernisation.
At the end of the year, a total of 18 remodelled police stations in regions 4 and 6 would be equipped with computers, he also said, explaining that such a venture will support the operationalisation of the Integrated Crime Information System aimed at monitoring trends in crime and violence through a network which links the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Georgetown Hospital, all prisons, and IT equipped police stations. This will allow the Joint Services to plan more strategically, based on statistical analysis, and undertake evidence based interventions in fulfilling their mandate to ensure safety for all, he said during his presentation on the security sector.

Meanwhile, he outlined how the $15.3 billion allocated last year was used to enhance the operations of the security sector. He said that the money was expended on improving the operational capability of the security forces in the areas of legislation, infrastructure, equipment and training with a continued focus on intelligence based policing. In addition to the substantial legislative agenda pursued in 2011, he said additional legislation, including the Anti-Gang Act and amendments to the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act, are at the moment being drafted.

Other key interventions made last year, he said, included the operationalisation of the Integrated Crime Information System, the remodelling of police stations to accommodate a computerised environment, the placement of closed circuit monitoring devices in crime hot spots around the city, progress on the construction of a modem forensic laboratory, and the construction of a new training facility and a new fire station at Mahaica.

Also, $769 million was spent on the acquisition of equipment to improve the operational capacity of the joint services, Singh said adding that over 300 security officers benefited from training in modern policing techniques, human rights and ethics consideration, and intelligence gathering.

In addition, to this he said emphasis has been placed on the promotion of social cohesion in communities. Through this initiative, over 6,000 persons benefited from anger management training, while over 1,000 youths were trained in various vocational skills.

“The security of every resident of our country is of paramount importance to our government. The expectation of every citizen to a safe community and a just and secure environment must be met. In this regard the effective interconnectedness of our security and justice sectors is critical to the meeting of this expectation,” he told the National Assembly.

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