Opposition to address Police reform during budget debate

first_imgOne of the major issues to be discussed by the parliamentary Opposition during the upcoming Budget debate is police reform.The Opposition is of the belief that this area will attract serious attention, given recent moves taken by the current administration.Former Home Affairs Minister Clement RoheeFormer Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has said that he plans to highlight some major issues with respect to the current Government’s approach to Police reform when the budget debate commences on Monday.Speaking on behalf of the People’s Progress Party at a news conference on Wednesday, Rohee said he feels this would attract plenty of attention because of the unusual development that has taken place over the past week.“One of the most recent being the Minister of Public Security (Khemraj Ramjattan) actually dismissing the Commissioner of Police (Selall Persaud) — a measure which he has no authority to execute,” he added.Speaking briefly on Budget 2018, Rohee said he feels a deep sense of disappointment with the measures taken in the area of public security, especially since most of the initiatives were adopted from the PPP administration.“The Citizen Security Programme (phases) One and Two began with the PPP Government; and this administration, without batting an eyelid, continued with these two programmes without even recognizing the significant contributions that were laid of citizen security in our country,” he added.Making reference to the statements made about the prison riot and fire, the Opposition MP and former minister noted that the catastrophe occurred under the current Government’s watch.Rohee is convinced that the Camp Street fire and riot took place as a result of what he described as “people negligence”, especially on the part of the David Granger-led Administration.“The PPP Administration prior to May 2015 initiated reforms at the Georgetown prison, and in fact the entire prison system as a whole. When we took to the Parliament a bill calling for reforms within the prison system and a change in the name of the Guyana Prison Service to the Guyana Prison and Correctional Services, it was thrown out.”The former minister recalled that the bill was not a cosmetic change, but was in fact a move aimed to bring about profound changes within the prison system.Government has announced plans to rebuild the Camp Street Prison in 2018, and a sizable allocation has been made in the 2018 Budget towards this effort.Finance Minister Winston Jordan told the National Assembly during his Budget presentation on Monday that $30.7 billion have been allocated to implement several initiatives in the security sector. Of that amount, the Prison Service will receive approximately $1.5 billion to address the expansion and rehabilitation of the prison infrastructure.Jordan said this work would include the expansion of the Mazaruni Prison to accommodate 400 inmates, 61 per cent more than its current capacity. The Prison is presently overcrowded.last_img