Given the resources allocated to security sector, performance has been poor

Dear Editor,

After my last letter on security matters, a confidential source with strong ties to the APNU+AFC who will remain anonymous, called to plead with me not to be so critical of the Minister of Public Security. He said, “Harry, Khemraj (Ramjattan) means well but he’s not being given the support. He’s not getting the money he’s asking for to improve the sector and he sees money being wasted and unaccounted for in other ministries. They (APNU) want him to fail. They’re using him and (Prime Minister) Moses (Nagamootoo) as pitbulls to go after Jagdeo and his boys. Haven’t you noticed? It is the Indians in the AFC that they’re using to discredit the PPP, our hands are clean.” So after pressing for an explanation, I was told that Granger is under pressure from the PNCR Executive for giving all the important ministries to the AFC but he can’t change that now without risking the breakup of the coalition. The APNU is hoping that Ramjattan will get frustrated by his many failures and either resign on his own, or ask to be reshuffled to another ministry.

This year, $37.4 billion was budgeted for the Security Sector. This is a 10.9%  increase from the $29.1 billion allocated last year. In addition, the Guyana Police Force recently received generous gifts from the People’s Republic of China of vehicles totaling US$2.6 million, and 200 bicycles (30 of these were given to the City Constabulary) valued at over US$145,000 and another US$20,000 worth of electronic equipment from the United States Government. So in fact, the Ministry of Public Security should not be short of resources to put systems in place to reduce crime and to secure our prisons. The problem is, this Administration is incapable of dealing with the management and leadership issues that exist in the sector.

Then on July 14, the Guyana Chronicle carried a bold headline that reads, “Armed Robberies down by 8%”. The Kaieteur News coverage of this story was slightly different. It reads, “The Guyana Police Force has recorded 44 murders in the past six months. And with the exception of rape and gun robberies, serious crimes were down by five percent in comparison to the same period last year.”

While Kaieteur News reported a two percent increase in robbery under arms in which firearms were used (298 as against 304 this year), the Guyana Chronicle had the figures reversed to show a decline of 2% to let the government look good. Even so, all Guyanese are aware of the almost daily reports of gun-related robberies and other crimes that terrify businesses and communities, and whether it is +2% or -2%, no one believes those manufactured figures  anymore. Shouldn’t rape and gun-related robberies form part of the “serious crime” category to give us a true and accurate crime report from the police? Who is manufacturing these crime statistics to give our citizens a false sense of security? I would wager if an opinion poll is done today, only two persons would believe these statistics: The Minister of Public Security and the Acting Commissioner of Police. But oh, perhaps there is a third, Crime Chief Paul Williams, who seems willing to compromise his professionalism by defending an out-of-control government minister in hopes of getting the Police Commissioner’s job. As this matter is still being investigated by the police, I would hope the Crime Chief has the decency to recuse himself from any part of this ongoing investigation.         

Whatever marginal gains the Guyana Police Force is reporting on crime statistics, even if true, is totally unacceptable to justify the huge amount of resources allocated to the security sector. We the citizens of Guyana demand results. And for the government to say that crime was also high during the PPP/C tenure is equally unaccepted. They’re the ones that gained office with all the answers to Guyana’s problems and the security experts the likes of former Police Commissioner Winston Felix and former Rear Admiral, Gary Best, but since then, crime has gotten worse. With the inexperienced Ramjattan now left on his own to hang out to dry, it seems that my source’s information may be credible after all. 

Yours faithfully,

Harry Gill

PPP/C Member of Parliament

Member of the Parliamentary

Oversight

Committee of the Security

Sector

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