…as Bill is passed in parliament
By Fareeza Haniff
Private security services have now come under regulation by the government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, as the Private Security Services Bill was passed in the National Assembly last evening.
In his presentation to the National Assembly, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee, who tabled the Bill, informed the members that the legislation seeks to bring private security companies under an arrangement where they are properly managed and structured and provide a better quality of service to their clients.
He added that it also allows private security companies to be more accountable and to ensure that there is oversight of their operations.
“Too often when we speak about accountability or oversight of institutions we tend to limit our perspective and our oversight to the state and public sector.”
While pointing out that the bill has been long in the making, Rohee said there were intense consultations with the stakeholders.
Rohee noted that there has been a rapid increase in the number of private security firms in the country, but there have been many complaints by their clients as it relates to the quality of service they provide which is not of a very high standard.
In this regard, it was noted that the Bill ensures a better quality of service is provided and forges a better working relationship with the Guyana Police Force and the private security services.
The new legal document will also discontinue the practice where anyone could form a company by simply registering under the companies act.
“This particular legal provision will ensure that the private security industry is not used by undesirables to promote their illegal agenda and we cannot underestimate the possibility of that happening.”
The rights of the workers in the industry will be protected as it relates to the labour laws, as Rohee noted that the situation in the country demands that both public and private security sectors are properly regulated and human rights are protected.
Currently, there are 18 private security companies operating in Guyana while there are 76 companies with internal security arrangements.
There are an estimated 5,398 security guards attached to security companies in Guyana with the smallest firm having 29 security guards, and the largest, almost one thousand.
According to Rohee, a total of $4.6B is spent annually on private security in Guyana, which is incidentally more than what was budgeted for the Guyana Police Force in 2006. On an average, companies spend $1.8 million to 4.5 million a year on security, Rohee said.
He added that the estimated dollar value of properties protected by private security companies amount to $107.5 billion, while large businesses can spend up to 3.9 percent of their income on private security.
Meanwhile, GAP/ROAR Member of Parliament, Everall Franklin opined that the increase in private security firms in Guyana has to do with the fact that there are deficiencies within the Police Force.
The bill was passed in the National Assembly with the support of GAP/ROAR as only Franklin represented that party. Sheila Holder was the only AFC member present. The PNCR had earlier walked out after its motion on torture was dismissed.
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