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Governments spend $22.8b on national security in five years
The state of emergency implemented by the Government is the latest attempt by consecutive administrations to deal with the seemingly uncontrollable problem of crime. Over the past five years, more than $4 billion have been allocated in every budget for national security. Actions have included from reform of the T&T Police Service to promises of offshore patrol vessels to more police vehicles.
The then PNM administration launched the 555 Anti-Crime launched in May of 2006, which was described as “one component of the anti-crime plan.” The Government in the budget said that illegal guns and drugs were responsible for crime. Offshore patrol vessels were promised. The Government said a “preferred bidder” had been identified and the contract would be awarded by December 2006, and that the first offshore patrol vessel would have been delivered 22 months later. It also promised a sophisticated radar system and three offshore patrols vessels to conduct drug interdiction. In describing that fiscal year, the Government boasted about reforming the Police Complaints Authority to ensure transparency and root out corruption and the re-establishment of the Homicide Bureau. The budget allocation for that year for national security was just over $4.6 billion.
In her maiden budget presentation in 2007, Karen Tesheira announced that $4.7 billion out of the $44 billion national budget would have been allocated to national security: an increase of $300 million from the previous budget. Provision was also made for the procurement of six high speed interceptors at a cost of $18 million. The Government promised approximately $39 million will be provided to the T&T Defence Force for the infrastructure modernisation and human resource development. Tesheira also announced that 450 police officers had been trained in community policing and responded effectively to any distress calls from members of the public. “In the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, all five model stations registered a decline in crime ranging from 21 per cent to 35 per cent,” Tesheira had said.
The Government boasted that the training of local specialist personnel to investigate and for analytical and forensic work had begun in 2008 and that training would have continued in 2009. It also said in 2008, the National Drug Control System was introduced to monitor cross-border movement of illicit drugs. The Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (Sautt) provided training for 2,070 law enforcement personnel.
The budgetary allocation for the protective services was $4.7 billion.
Just about $4.1 billion was allocated to national security that year. The Finance Minister in the budget statement said: “In 2008 the National Security Council agreed to the engagement of the services of retired Major General Cameron H Ross to conduct a review of the national security of T&T. The review was conducted from September 2008-February 2009 and there were 300 recommendations.” The Government expanded the CCTV Network to provide extensive coverage throughout T&T, purchased and refurbished a number of vehicles for the mobility of the protective services and promised to acquire four helicopters and offshore patrol vessels.
Roughly $4.762 billion was allocated to the Ministry of National Security by the People’s Partnership Government in its first budget.
• The Government promised to introduce youth mentoring programmes.
• It promised to introduce a National Security Operation Centre which would focus on intelligence gathering.
• It promised a monthly special duty allowance of $1,000 to be paid to the more than 7,000 officers in the T&T Police Service.
• It promised “aggressive recruitment” of more police officers.
• It promised the establishment of a Victims of Crime Support Programme.
• It proposed to establish a special criminal court to “provide swift justice.”
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