Jan 29, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – There are some provisions, at this pre-debate interval more of proposals, in this year’s massive half a trillion Guyana dollars plus national budget. A handful of them are encouraging, once the money earmarked is constructively put to work, so that more citizens can benefit. Citizens in locations outside of the Capital City stand to reap some benefits from what is in the budget under the Ministry of Home Affairs, with specific reference to the state’s security sector. Money is to be spent on more surveillance cameras to beef up security for areas outside of Georgetown (“Govt. to put more cameras on the street -$400M allocated to rebuild Brickdam Police Station” KN January 28).
Overall, $47.9 billion Guyana dollars is the amount identified “to boost public safety and security” and of which approximately“$2.5B has also been proposed to expand the Safe City Programme outside of the city, with more CCTV cameras to be installed countrywide.” We think that this is a good development, which could instill confidence in citizens, especially those in communities beyond Georgetown. We like it, and we agree with it, but the reality of enhanced security will only come to pass, when those billions are employed to get quality cameras that function when needed the most, viz: during the commission of crimes. To repeat the obvious, they provide indisputable trails of evidence for the Guyana Police Force (GPF) investigators, and on which the courts are sure to rely. But the cameras must function, and the tapes must be available to be tendered (more on this later).
According to the Minister with responsibility for Finance in the Office of the President, Dr. Ashni Singh, the $47.9B allocation for the security sector will be used “towards ensuring the restoration and preservation of law and order at all levels in our society.” We are as one with him and his government on this. But again, the claim of the vision of a return to some semblance of law and order in this society will only be realised if and when those tens of billions of borrowed taxpayers’ dollars are spent in an honest and prudent manner. Hopeful Guyanese have gotten their hands burned repeatedly with the rosy speeches of political figures of the stature of the senior Finance official, only for them to be left with no option but to retreat in anger and disgust.
Most citizens still feel a sense of deep dread and great vulnerability, despite the claims and statistics presented by senior officers of the GPF of substantial decreases in serious crimes. Converse with ordinary Guyanese, and the belief is that the Capital City that now attracts hordes of foreigners is a nest of bandits lurking to pounce, rob, and injure at will. We have reported on foreigners coming to do business of some type being waylaid and robbed right in the crowded capital and in broad daylight. If this can take place in a heavily congested area of Guyana, literally dotted with surveillance cameras, then one can only imagine the fears and anxieties of those residents who live in other communities that, at this time, do not have security cameras. There is this broad sense of vulnerability and being under siege, to the point where even one’s well barricaded home does not offer the confidence that it should.
We want those security cameras, and we need them to be in place, in order for citizens to go about their lawful business everywhere. We need them on the roads and streets and business establishments without nervous citizens having to be constantly looking over their shoulders and being frightened out of their wits by every passing bicycle, motorcycle, and other types of vehicles that criminals employ in their predatory activities. But like we said, these expensive cameras must be working and delivering all the time, then be available to close out crime on the books.
The camera records cannot mysteriously prove to be unavailable or undecipherable at crucial times, such as in the instance of an execution that occurred on Main Street close to the official residence of Guyana’s head of state. When that happens, the billions spent mean nothing, and crime flourishes. When we get real, we get results.
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