Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2016, 10:07 by Denis Chabrol
The Mazaruni Prison
Following the death of 17 inmates in a fatal fire at the Georgetown Prison earlier this year and and an inquiry which revealed serious overcrowding, Government is hoping to plug some $2.2B into expansion the Mazaruni Prison to ease pressures on the Georgetown prison.
$369M will be released in 2017 as the first tranche of that money which will see “the expansion of offices, inmate living facilities, staff and family living facilities, training facilities, as well as the construction of a school, day care centre and places of worship,” Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced in his budget 2017 speech last evening.
$29.1B has been budgeted for the security sector in 2017. This allocation comes in the face of a perception that crime is increasing while police statistics suggest otherwise.
“We continue to be bombarded on a near daily basis, about a range of criminal activities, from petty to fatal, that is occurring across our country,” Jordan said in his budget speech this evening before laying out a number of crime-management recommendations.
Among those were a proposed increase for the police force; equipping police with vehicles to encourage faster response times; re-establishing the 911 service, and consolidating the work of the Integrated Crime Information System to ensure intelligence sharing across crime fighting agencies.
Jordan also spoke to the proposed strengthening of the Office of Professional Responsibility to deal with delinquent police officers.
“Prevention measures will also target over 1,000 at-risk youth to be trained in a 9-month programme in technical and vocational skills in 2017,” Jordan told the House. “It is anticipated that the empowerment and education of youth in livelihood-building skills will help to reduce the incidence of delinquency and crime.”
Some $740M will be budgeted for patrolling key crime areas in order to deter criminal activity, Jordan said, adding that this work will be complemented by the mounted branch of horse and rider patrols for hinterland areas.
The Finance Minister announced that the umbrella National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) tasked with tackling “narcotics, smuggling, and human-trafficking” through a multi-agency approach will be launched by the end of this year.
“The National Drug Strategy Master Plan and a draft of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Master Plan, both of which were completed in 2016, will serve as a strategic guide for our efforts going forward,” he continued.
Outside of crime management, the Minister alluded to a $250M allocation to provide a fire-boat to be attached to the fleet of fire vehicles in Georgetown. Fire stations will also be constructed at Mahdia, Mabarua, and Melanie Damishana, while Leguan and Wakenaam can expect two ambulances to support the emergency and fire response services.