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JAMAICA | Opposition flays Government's national security efforts

Featured Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Peter Bunting, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Peter Bunting, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday
KINGSTON, April 19, 2017 - Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Peter Bunting, has blasted National Security Minister Robert Montague for what he has characterized as broken promises and poor handling of certain aspects of his portfolio.

Making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday,  Bunting said Mr. Montague came into the job making several promises to the public, with specific references to some of the promises which were made just last year:

“Inmates will be dressed in brightly coloured suits, electronically monitored as they work in communities – no sign of these.

We will roll out more mobile police stations – no sign of these.

We will re-start the Graduate Entry Programme – not started.

We will review the police book of rules and ensure each officer gets a copy – officers still don’t have the book.

We’re purchasing dogs from Cuba – no sign of Cuban dogs!”

Bunting also raised questions about the procurement process used to acquire used cars for the police force. 

Bunting queried whether someone who had been convicted for narcotics and related offences and deported from the United States would be in a position to be awarded a more-than-$400-million contract from the Ministry of National Security.

"Does it matter whether a director or shareholder of this company is the subject of adverse traces by local or international law enforcement, or has previously been convicted of narcotics-related offences and deported from the USA?" Bunting questioned his government counterpart Robert Montague during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Gordon House.

"The other question the minister needs to answer is whether the Ministry of National Security has any fit and proper criteria that they apply when issuing a huge contract for over $400 million?"

This “huge purchase contract” was granted to a dealer “that I understand had not imported a single vehicle in the last two years – since March 2015 – yet the Ministry has handed over 200 million to this entity as an advance on deposit,” he charged, that accompanied by theatrical expressions of shock by other opposition MPs.

“Were the financial statements of this entity assessed to determine its financial capability?” he asked.

“I believe this used car procurement for the JCF will come to be known as the mother of all bandulu”  he predicted.

According to Bunting, the police have only received 40 used vehicles for fiscal year 2016-2017, despite having a budget of more than $500 million to purchase 240 cars.

Montague responded immediately to some of the questions, and in particular denied that there was any irregularity in the procurement process.  

The claim that the Ministry of National Security had issued a selective tender was an “absolute falsehood,” he asserted, declaring that the tender had been published “about six times in the two major newspapers in the country.”

The tender was assessed by the National Contracts Commission which made its recommendations, “and we abided by those recommendations,” he said.

Bunting, said that despite supporting a Joint Select Committee (JSC) to review the Special Security and Community Development Measures Bill, the Opposition still has strong reservations about its provisions.

Bunting pointed to a sentence from  the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons of the Bill which, he said, “telegraphs the true purpose of the legislation”.

The sentence states: “This Act should not have the negative impact on Jamaica, which could likely occur if a declaration of a state of public emergency was made.”

“In other words, this Act attempts to give state of emergency-type powers to the security forces without having to declare a state of emergency and make it not subject to Parliamentary review. This raises a number of concerns and risks,” the Opposition spokesman said.

The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act was among several Bills announced in the House of Representatives last month by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Introducing the Bills in his contribution to the budget debate, Holness announced the establishment of the Zones of Special Operations as part of the Government’s plan to secure Jamaica.

He said that the Bill would give members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force essential powers, which the Government believes are necessary in addressing serious crimes, while upholding the rule of law and protecting the fundamental rights of citizens.

Last modified onThursday, 20 April 2017 06:54
  • Countries: Jamaica

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