Gov’t spends billions on security forces’ capabilities

THE Government has allocated $375 million in the 2021-22 budget to complete construction of Burke Barracks Phase II, which consists of office and accommodation buildings for members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

During financial year 2020-21, an allocation of $1.1 billion was provided to the Ministry of National Security to complete construction of Phase II of Burke Barracks in the western end of the island, renovate the New Castle training facility, and complete works at the Moneague Training Camp in St Ann, including construction of a military canine facility.

This is among a number of projects being financed between fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22 by the 2021-22 budget to supplement the drive to reduce crime and violence and improve public security and maintain the rule of law.

These projects also include the construction and rehabilitation of police buildings, procurement of security vehicles, and construction/procurement of facilities/equipment to improve access, coverage, and response of the military.

During 2020-21, $5.5 billion had been allocated to procure motor vehicles, aircraft, ships, and other specialised surveillance and operational equipment, to replace aged and unserviceable units and to strengthen the JDF’s and the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF’s) ability to respond to physical threats, cyber attacks and conduct border patrol.

Procurement of these specialised equipment will continue into 2021-22, as well as into the medium term (2021-22 to 2024-25), the ministry confirmed.

An allocation of $5 billion has also been provided in the 2021-22 budget to improve the JDF’s response to physical threats and cyber attacks, as well as to conduct search and rescue operations and border patrols.

Close to $310 million have been made in the 2021-22 Estimates of Expenditure to commence civil works activities on the government-owned Forensic Pathology Autopsy Suite. The facility will reduce the severe backlog of autopsy cases and reduce or eliminate any legal implications and associated risks.

The ministry will also see a reduction in the cost for storage, transportation and use of private facilities to conduct autopsy procedures. Construction is projected over two financial years, 2021-22 and 2022-23, with acquisition of the relevant equipment and fixtures for the facility also taking place during this period.

For 2021-22, the sum of $200 million has also been allocated to commence the construction of a new police divisional headquarters in Westmoreland. The project duration is 24 months, and the facility is expected to be completed by the end of financial year 2022-23.

A security strengthening project, which aims to undertake and implement initiatives geared at increasing the conviction rate for murders in Jamaica by improving operational efficiencies in the JCF, is also in the works.

During 2020-21, this project was allocated $271 million, to support procurement of information technology software and hardware, case management system, jail management system, station records management system, and network equipment to facilitate interconnection between agencies.

For 2021-22 the project has been allocated $666.3 million to continue the procurement process as well as the continued development of the different systems.

— Balford Henry

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