National Security stakeholders wait for budget draft estimates

Prison Officers Association president Ceron Richards. -
Prison Officers Association president Ceron Richards. -

Leaders of different branches of the protective services were hesitant to give their views on the increased budget allocation for national security until they receive further details on the breakdown of the allocation.

During the budget presentation for 2021/ 2022, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that national security would receive $5.664 billion.

This is $437 million more than the allocation for the last fiscal year.

Contacted for comment, acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob declined to comment.

President of the police Social and Welfare Association acting Insp Gideon Dickson said he hoped the increase in allocation factored in the concerns of officers, but also preferred to wait for the draft estimates before saying more.

"What I would like to say for now is we appreciate the increase, but we have to do a closer analysis as to the allocation, based on what is reoccurring expenditure and capital investment.

"Our two major concerns were medical for officers and salary negotiations. We hope something is factored in to address these two issues, and any optimisim we have can only be captured from that."

Newsday also contacted Chief Fire Officer Arnold Bristo, who said, "I would only be speculating until I see something before me."

Head of the Fire Service Association Leo Ramkissoon said he was cautiously optimistic the increase took into account the need for upgraded facilities and training.

He said chief among the concerns of fire officers were ongoing salary negotiations, which he hoped was close to being settled.

"It is hoped by the Fire Services Association given our dire circumstances in the service where we have been clamouring for appliances, equipment, training and facilities maintenance that the end result will be that the fire service actually receives a more balanced slice of the pie than what they would have received in previous years.

"We are also optimistic that the increase in allocation can also signal an intention to settle salary negotiations for the three outstanding periods commencing from 2014 to today."

Newsday tried to contact Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan several times but was unsuccessful.

President of the Prison Officers Association Ceron Richards said while Imbert mentioned various infrastructural upgrades to the prisons, prison officers hoped salary negotiations would be settled, and added: "There was no allocation for medical plan for prison officers in the last budget.

"The other thing we were looking at was the vehicles for the prison. We have not had new vehicles, and we're looking at the alarm systems and all dormitories for officers are in dire need of repair,

"We're talking about upgrades for Carrera convict prison, we're talking about infrastructure and upgrades.

"We're also talking about outstanding overtime payments for prison officers, way back to 2011.

"And we are also hoping some of it can go towards the purchasing of equipment like stab-proof vests, bulletproof vests and other security items to assist prison officers carrying out their legitimate duties."

National security received the third largest portion of the budget behind education and training, which received $6.886 billion, and health, which received $6.395 billion.

Since 2015, national security has received consistently smaller allocations of the budget, beginning with an allocation of $10.8 billion for the 2015/2016 fiscal year.

Imbert said several aspects of national security were of particular interest to the government over the last fiscal year, especially border security and organised crime.

He said several projects were completed and under way to tackle these threats while improving the levels of digitisation in different arms of the protective services.

National security allocations:

2021-2022 $5.664 billion

2020-2021 $5.227 billion

2019-2020 $6.44 billion.

2018-2019 $6.120 billion

2017-2018 $6.4 billion

2016-2017 $7.625 billion

2015-2016 $10.8 billion


"National Security stakeholders wait for budget draft estimates"

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