Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 14, 2016 (SKNIS): Planning meetings to finance government’s programmes and activities for the 2017 fiscal year began this week as the Budget’s Estimates Committee, members of the Federal Cabinet and technical officers from the various ministries and departments have been locked in intense discussions.
Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Hilary Hazel, gave an update on the meetings and said that they should be completed by Friday (October 14). Deputy Financial Secretary, Calvin Edwards, said upgrading of the national security apparatus was a major priority for the government as it carries out its mandate to enhance public safety.
“Massive investments are going to be put into training, upgrading equipment for police and so on so that they can keep up the momentum,” he said, referring to various successes by law enforcement this year.
Mr. Edwards added that Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who holds the portfolio of finance and national security, has instructed that efforts be focused on acquiring the necessary funds. “The government is not sparing any resources in terms of giving the police the necessary resources that it would need to effectively fight crime,” he added.
During the 2016 Budget Address last December (2015), the Ministry of National Security was granted $47.6 million to carry out its recurrent activities and $15.4 million for capital projects. The recurrent expenditure represented a 3.8 million or 8.7 percent increase over the previous year.
While there was the usual intense focus for next year’s initiatives, Mrs. Hazel said that medium term programmes are also being projected as part of a new forward looking system.
“In the medium framework that is developed by the Ministry of Finance, we also have the opportunity to look two years down the line,” she said. “We cannot do a proper planning out of the investments that the government needs to make as well as the programmes and the policies that needs to fit together nicely in just a snap shot of a twelve month period.”
Among medium term projects mentioned to be in the pipeline are an energy efficiency programme for public lighting, an audit of public buildings with a view to incorporating green energy tools and the drilling of new wells to increase the supply of potable water.