Since the announcement last week of the date for the upcoming Budget Presentation, a great deal of attention has been centred largely on budget-related fiscal, monetary and economic issues. In the midst of this discourse, however, there is another niggling matter that warrants our focus as we advocate for a transformative leap for our country.
Crime continues to be perceived as the most serious problem facing our country today. This perception is true for citizens in general and for the business community. As business people, we are all too aware that if fear of crime continues to dominate our society, it is inevitable that business activity will suffer even more. Over the years, the fear of violent crime has caused heightened caution and some curtailment of personal activities even as people set about their routine undertakings.
Although, for the past three years or so, National Security has continued to receive the largest allocation in the national budget, as a country we have not successfully brought crime within manageable proportions. Added to this, the detection rate remains abysmally low – and in the case of homicides, dangerously so. Without detection, few cases make it to prosecution and even less to conviction.
The TT Chamber is well aware that curbing crime is not an easy task. Like many other national issues with which we grapple, it has developed over many years, developing into the veritable beast that confronts us today. While the TT Police Service appears to be communicating their breakthroughs in cases far more regularly on various platforms, there is still a long way to go before crime is at a comfortable level. But they, the police, cannot do it alone. Crime can only be brought under control if the many national stakeholders display leadership and make a concerted effort to work in tandem towards a common goal of addressing crime.
Over a decade ago, the TT Chamber joined with other business representative organisations to develop a plan that made recommendations for a holistic approach to addressing crime, encompassing short, medium and long-term goals. Proposals centred on legislation, the judiciary and the courts, the police, the Witness Protection Programme, the Forensic Sciences Centre, the prisons as well as measures for crime prevention and deterrence. While there has been progress in some areas, many remain outstanding.
Currently, the Joint Chambers is again taking the initiative and developing a plan of action geared towards crime management and reduction. Following a recently convened meeting a series of activities are being pursued which will engage other stakeholders. At this juncture, we wish to signal our full support for this week’s Caribbean Security Forum 2017, which will be hosted by TTCSI and its partners.
We at the TT Chamber do not claim to have all the answers. But we do see our role as a responsible corporate entity in the society – one that can assist in a coordinated effort towards bringing as many stakeholders together to do its part in putting a noticeable dent in the crime challenge. We urge Government to be receptive to adopting the best of the recommendations we are currently compiling, with a view to restoring a sense of safety and security in our beloved nation.
The TT Chamber writes a weekly column for the Business Day paper.