Minister Rohee remains bullish about fate of security sector allocations : –in spite of opposition ‘smoke signals’

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PULL QUOTE: ‘I won’t bury my head in the sand; cuts or no cuts, we have our job to do’ 
THERE is currently no breakdown in law and order in Guyana, and how the opposition will treat with the allocations for the Ministry of Home Affairs is anybody’s guess, says substantive Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, when he appeared in a televised interview on Friday last. He said that while he holds an open mind in relation to the upcoming budget debates and the fate of the $17.5B allocated to the Security Sector, he will not “bury his head in the sand.”  

Minister Rohee was adamant that Government will not be cowed or scared in any way. “Cuts or no cuts, we have our job to do,” he said.

Rohee lauded the 2013 Budget, saying it has illustrated Government’s priorities in its allocations. Education, Health and the Security sectors have been allocated the largest tranches of the 2013 Budget.

The Minister, under whose portfolio security of the nation falls, said security being placed as a priority for the administration in terms of its national expenditure was not because of what the opposition had said, but is because Government recognises that persons in society require a comfort level to allow them to work and live their lives in a normal way.

He said Government also has recognized that a stable and secure environment is required to ensure investors are comfortable.
According to Minister Rohee, over the years, the administration has been seeking to adequately resource the security services, and this has led to the current atmosphere where there is now no breakdown in law and order in Guyana.

The minister pointed to the recent Phagwah celebrations across the country, in which thousands of people congregated in the streets and other open venues in ‘jollification”, positing that this would not have been possible had there been a breakdown in law and order; and he also pointed to the Easter weekend holiday, currently underway, and contended that, in similar manner, thousands of persons would again congregate “in jollification.”

“Everything is normal, and you have a general atmosphere of peace and tranquility,” the minister contended.

With the debates set to commence on Tuesday in the House, Minister Rohee said he did not want to prejudge its outcome, but that, “we have already begun seeing smoke signals from the Parliament…we have seen certain signs and heard certain statements; but let’s wait and see what plays out in the Parliament.”

The minister said that no sector would ever receive all that it wanted in one fell swoop, and he was quite satisfied with the increased allocation to his ministry. He reminded that a massive restructuring and revamping of the Guyana Police Service and the Prison Services would commence this year, and the Guyana Fire Service would now place greater emphasis on its rescue capabilities.

To this end, Minister Rohee noted, the Guyana Fire Service will, this year, purchase an ambulance to complement its fleet.

Satisfied with what has been allocated for the entities falling under the purview of the Home Affairs Ministry this year, the minister said the targets set in the Strategic Plan for the entities will all be met.
“We will not fall short of what we intend to do this year,” Minister Rohee said.

He also announced that among the key benchmarks to be met is completion of the state-of-the-art forensic laboratory, scheduled for a June commissioning. “We are now advertising for persons to staff the lab, and we are also looking abroad as well. We have to make sure we have the full complement of staff in order to have the lab running.”

The minister also used the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed air wing of the Guyana Police Force, for which preparatory work has already commenced. In responding to critics regarding the fact that an air wing of the Police Force had been promised years ago but never came to fruition, Rohee said, “I wasn’t there (Home Affairs Ministry) many years ago.”

Having concluded that there is need for an air wing of the Guyana Police Force, Rohee said, 15 ranks have already been selected with the next step being enrollment at the aeronautical school at Ogle.

He said that at present the important thing is to build the capacity and that the aircraft “will come sooner rather than later.”