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$61.5 million allocated for law and order, citizen security


Some $61.5 million of the 2018 Budget is allocated to the areas of law and order and citizen security.

And from this allocation, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard (RSVGCG) will get a new vessel and a refurbished jetty.

That is the word from Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves, who on Monday, during the 2018 Budget address, said that the RSVGCG has been improving its sea patrol endeavours and with this in mind, the Government is hoping to add a top-class vessel to the fleet.

He said the vessel, which is expected to come from the Damen group, a Dutch company, is 42.8 metres in size, with a top speed of 26.5 knots and the capability to hold 18 sailors.

“Nothing like this has been seen in SVG,” said Gonsalves, adding that $523,000 is budgeted to be spent on repairing the coast guard jetty at Calliaqua.

The Finance Minister stressed that the sum allocated to the Functional Classification category, Public Order and Safety, amounts to $69.3 million or seven per cent of the total budget, a sum he considers “huge”.

“The manpower numbers are also instructive. In the Police Services, there is a personnel complement of 910, inclusive of 14 Traffic Wardens and 10 Rural Constables; there are 99 Fire-Fighters in the Fire Service; there are 92 Coast Guard Officers; and 137 Prison Officers. This makes a grand total of 1,238 frontline personnel in the security establishment of the State; this, too, is a significant number for a population of 110,000 persons. In this Budget, there is an allocation for an additional 50 police officers,” revealed Gonsalves.

He added that the local crime fighting initiatives are strengthened by regional support security systems, such as the Regional Security System (RSS) and the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) in CARICOM. 

“Additionally, there are many helpful security links with international organizations and governments,” stated Gonsalves.

He noted that it is admirable that the Budget has a serious focus on law, order, and security and stressed that the socio-economic sectors which assist with tackling the causes of crime are well funded in the Budget. 

“Citizen security is ultimately everyone’s business. The rising wave of criminality that threatens to alter the fabric of societies in our region must be confronted frontally by all right-thinking Vincentians. Today, we, as a society, must choose whether we intend to accommodate ourselves to criminality, while occasionally bemoaning police ineptitude during episodic crime waves; or whether we will stand united against it, with a coordinated response of church, school, family, village and individual that allows no space or safe haven for criminality and lawlessness to take root,” said the Finance Minister.