Is Gov’t Serious? $1M Of $65M Loan For Police

Melissa Edwards, Senior Journalist | 0 Comment
March 12, 2018 7:15 am AST
UK officers who were in the BVI post Irma, patrolling Road Town.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The government needs to stop tiptoeing around the issue of crime, particularly gun violence, which has climbed sharply since September of last year.

“We better stop playing this rounders and go finance these people [police],” Opposition Leader, Hon. Andrew Fahie said.

His comments came after Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith disclosed that only $1M of the $65M Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) loan funds will be allocated to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF).

In the House of Assembly last week, he also clarified that the $5M which government recently announced will be made available to fight crime, is not solely for the police force, but to share among the law enforcement agencies—Immigration and Customs Departments, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), Ministry of Education and Culture (Her Majesty’s Prison), and the BVI Ports Authority.

The Premier said that under the $65M CDB loan, $5.3M has been allotted to NECO/DDM (disaster preparedness) and $1.3M to the RVIPF.

“There is no allocation for any other law enforcement agency under the CDB loan. However, my government is committed to support the need for improved security. Therefore, we made available up to $5M to improve law enforcement agencies in the BVI,” he said.

Hon. Fahie commented that he was of the impression that the $5M was entirely made available for the police force.

In response to more questions, Premier Smith said that police is yet to receive the full $1.3M, and said that he is not sure if the other agencies have made request for money.

“You are saying that all the other agencies have not made request for monies, given the serious crimes?” Hon. Fahie asked.

Premier Smith explained, “Once they are received by the Ministry of Finance, they will process, but I wouldn’t necessarily know when they came in.”

He also disclosed that under the $721M proposed Recovery and Development Plan, the police force is set to receive $3.4M for short term and medium/long term term, $8.7M. Premier Smith said that the money will be in addition to the annual allocation to the force.

Premier Smith also mentioned the security action plan, which will focus on four areas of immediate priority.

These are aggressively securing the integrity of the Territory’s borders against illicit entry of guns, people and narcotics; strategically, increasing the presence, visibility and connectivity between all law enforcement agencies; tactically reducing key criminal activities within the Territory; and developing a cross-sector robust crime prevention and reduction plan between all law enforcement agencies.

The BVI has recorded three murders thus far for 2018, all within the month of February, and several shooting incidents.

Prior to the natural disasters, the force was calling for more resources to fight crime.

The matter had reached to a point where former Governor John Duncan exercised his constitutional powers, forcing the National Democratic Party (NDP) government to provide additional money to the police force and legal system.

The move by Mr. Duncan was viewed as an embarrassment to the NDP and its leader, Premier Smith.
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