2017 budget allocates over $52 million for national security

(SKNIS): National Security continues to be a top priority of the Team Unity Administration and the administration is putting its money where its mouth is with the allocation of over $52 million towards the preservation of law and order. This represents a 10 percent increase over the allocation for 2016.

The 10 percent increase translates to approximately $5 million more for the ministry and brings the total funds allocated for 2017 to $52.7 million, which was hailed as the largest allocation assigned to the ministry.

“We have made provision in this Budget for support in terms of compensation, the physical environment and equipment for those involved in policing,” the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said on Wednesday (December 07) as he laid the Bill entitled the Appropriation Act (2017) 2016, commonly referred to as the Budget, in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis.

A key feature of the plan for 2017 will see greater collaboration between the security agencies which include the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department. A National Security Advisor will also be appointed and the National Defence Council and a National Crimes Commission will be activated. The prime minister, who also holds the ministerial portfolio for National Security, said that the defence council and crimes commission will provide guidance and direction for the work of the security forces.

Approximately $19.1 million is proposed to be spent on Capital projects. The Coast Guard Base and the St. Paul’s Police Station in St. Kitts as well as the Newcastle Police Station in Nevis, are all scheduled to receive upgrades. The construction of a new prison is also on the agenda. Surveillance of the national borders also expected to improve with upgrades to the M.V. Stalwart, the Coast Guard’s main vessel.

“We are looking at new technology, radars for the coastal borders and using (aerial) drones as part of the surveillance in the country moving forward,” Dr. Harris said.

Additional Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras will also be mounted on land in St. Kitts thanks to support from the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan). The recent donation of $5 million will be used to fund Phase 1 of the CCTV project.

“We are moving the country ahead, moving it in the right direction, doing what we can for the benefit of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” the prime minister said.

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