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UK considering Guyana’s request to revive Security Sector reform

President David Granger

Amid rampant gun crimes and ongoing drug trafficking, Britain is actively considering Guyana’s request revive the Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) that had been shelved by the previous government.

The announcement that Guyana has already approached the UK was made by President David Granger in an address to the opening of the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Pegasus Hotel. “We need to deal with the public security problem and I have approached the British government to restore the Security Sector Reform action plan,” he said to loud applause.

Shortly after the announcement, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn told reporters that steps were being taken to explore ways to resuscitate the security aid programme.

He was, however, unsure whether the US$4.7 million (3 million pounds sterling) was still available for the project that seeks to modernize the security sector and make it more responsive to various aspects of crime. “I don’t know the answer to that. There will be funding available. I just don’t know on what basis because the funding originally was coming from DfID (Department for International Development) and whether or not there is new DfID funding available, I don’t know,” he said.

The project was conceptualized in 2007 and cancelled in 2009 after Britain insisted on having direct oversight of the SSRP to ensure that British taxpayers’ monies are properly spent

On the issue of whether Britain would still put that down as a pre-requisite, Quinn said  “I would expect that if we end up in a process or in a situation where a similar type of project is going to go ahead, then the fundamental requirements that we had of that agreement we will probably require for this one but  to be honest until we actually figure out what  is that might be done and how, then we will look at the governance and the oversight aspects of that,”  said the High Commissioner. The then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration had ditched the SSRP, citing claims that Britain was about to violate Guyana’s sovereignty through direct management of the project from “top to bottom.”

The British envoy explained that before the SSRP could go ahead, the entity that had conducted a review and recommended the project would be re-engaged to review the project to cater for the changing criminal landscape in this country. “Of course, it probably does need updating,” the diplomat remarked.

Quinn said the British government would then examine ways of meeting President Granger’s request but he could not say how soon the project could be resuscitated.  “It is going to take time because we have got to sort of go back in the UK (United Kingdom) to figure out who was it that actually did the original assessment, find out whether or not they are available to do a new assessment…,”  said Quinn.

Concerns have been raised about the spike in gun-related crimes, mainly robberies,  that have in a number of cases claimed lives and left others injured. Only Sunday night, gunmen shot and killed a businessman at Ankerville, Port Mourant, Corentyne in a failed robbery bid. “Many people living in the Diaspora don’t want to come to Guyana because they feel they are gonna get killed,” Granger remarked.

The President reiterated the need for police and soldiers to be properly deployed and well-paid to counter drugs and arms trafficking across the borders with neighbouring countries and prevent the fallout from such activity from reaching the coastland.