Top Priorities: Crime and Unemployment Crisis

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie said the Government has been clear that its over-riding priorities are resolving the crime issue and addressing unemployment.

During his Contribution to the 2012/13 Budget Debate on June 13, the Prime Minister said the Minister of National Security stated that he needs more police officers and cars to fight crime.

“I am going to say today that I do not know that I could meet the immediate needs, one time, as Minister of Finance, but to assist with the attainment of the objective, we will over the next 18-months, purchase at least 70 new vehicles for use by the police force, to show their presence over the breadth and depth of the streets in all areas.  This will facilitate quicker response by the police.”

He said the government is also looking at making enhanced use of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to supplement the activities of police in certain areas at certain times.
“There seems to have been a notion put forward, that we are taking away from the protection of our borders to give defence force officers policing responsibilities,” the Prime Minister said.

“Every defence force, or whatever they are called in the region, have established protocols where in some circumstances, if there is a crisis, they are able to work in tandem with the police.”

He said the relevant agencies need to work out those protocols now, so in the event it becomes necessary, if in the event criminals believe that they could take over these streets, the resources that are available to the country would be used for the maximum protection of the people but not to the detriment of any one of the agencies.

Prime Minister Christie said the government’s implementation of house repairs and community improvements will create employment.

“I am instructing the ministers responsible, mindful and recognising that people are suffering and they are looking to the government for relief.

“We will seek to utilise a portion of the $15 million special fund to identify people in distress and to more effectively target their needs through our various programmes of assistance.  This will not be a cash hand-out; it will be targeted at satisfying certain household commitments,” he said.

“So the ministers responsible for those areas are now directed to ensure that they make application for part of that fund to target people who are in distress so that we may bring relevant relief to people right away.”

The Prime Minister said the present administration has “rightly been critical of the jobs initiative programme of the previous administration, because the programme was poorly structured, resulted in expenditure above that which was initially proposed and because it did not focus on the creation of sustainable employment opportunities”.

He said it was a programme that started out as a $25 million programme, but ended up as a $48 million programme.

“In the Charter for Governance, we have laid out a comprehensive and multifaceted programme of action for both the short and medium term that will bring out the fundamental changes in our economy and society that are critical to a better future.”

By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services