Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2014. 4:17 pm CST.
By Richard Harrison
Most Belizeans feel that there is a trend of declining personal safety inside the borders of the country….and more recently, believe that there is also increasing threat from beyond the borders, and especially from Guatemala.
The budget proposed for the Ministry of National Security for 2014/15 is $114.8 million [14% of the total expenditure budget]
The breakdown for this budget is:
1. Airport Camp (BDF) $28,812,300
2. Air Wing $1,655,881
3. Maritime Wing $1,135,643
4. Volunteer Element $3,855,215
5. Police General Admin $1,392,506
6. Police Admin Belmopan $4,067,163
7. Police Admin Corozal $2,231,944
8. Police Admin Orange Walk $2,215,210
9. Police Admin Belize City $2,889,119
10. Police Admin San Ignacio $1,716,264
11. Police Admin Benque Viejo $1,154,981
12. Police Dangriga $1,611,804
13. Police Admin Punta Gorda $1,615,750
14. Police Training School $3,533,861
15. Police Canine Unit $1,095,399
16. Police Band $82,816
17. Police Special Branch $2,418,143
18. VIP Unit $558,902
19. Police Info Technology Unit $1,258,353
20. Police Tourism Unit $1,599,321
21. Police Dragon Unit $3,141,706
22. Crimes Investigation Branch $3,412,771
23. Joint Intelligence Comp Cen $484,265
24. National Forensic Services $849,198
25. Police Intermediate Southern $1,449,572
26. Anti Narcotic Unit $1,644,813
27. Scenes of Crime Unit $1,149,194
28. Crime Intelligence Unit $635,057
29. National Coast Guard $6,549,176
30. Patrol Branch Belize City $10,652,611
31. Prosecution Branch Belize City $2,245,387
32. Traffic Branch $879,570
33. San Pedro/Caye Caulker Police $1,845,794
34. Belmopan Police Station $1,849,541
35. Community Policing $1,151,675
36. Forensic Medicine Unit $212,600
37. Rural Formation $2,692,674
38. Gang Unit $1,525,167
39. Council Secretariat $204,640
40. Prison Services $7,588,710
41. Ministry of National Security $2,716,855
AIRPORT CAMP – of the $28,812,300 budgeted for the BDF, “personal emoluments” amount to $19,550,996, travel and subsistence $104,029, materials and supplies $5,288,804, operating costs $1,875,856, maintenance costs $1,157,046, training $343,598, public utilities $412,350, rents and leases $79,620. The “military establishment” budgets for 1,074 servicemen and 160 recruits.
AIR WING – of the $1,655,882 budgeted for the Air Wing, “personal emoluments” amount to $598,792, travel and subsistence $14,040, materials and supplies $162,431, operating costs $425,741, maintenance costs $394,758, and training $60,120….for a total of 29 servicemen.
MARITIME WING – of the $1,135,643 budgeted for the Maritime Wing, “personal emoluments” amount to $576,106, travel and subsistence $9,600, materials and supplies $175,948, operating costs $125,964, maintenance costs $212,154, and training $25,000, public utilities $10,872….for a total of 29 servicemen.
PROSECUTION BRANCH – of the $2,245,387 budgeted for the Prosecution Branch, “personal emoluments” amount to $1,919,889, travel and subsistence $22,092, materials and supplies $91,862, operating costs $79,855, maintenance costs $121,389, training $4,000 and public utilities $6,300…for a total of 51 servicemen.
The police strength budgeted for is: Belmopan 40, Corozal 73, Orange Walk 69, Belize City 50, San Ignacio 54, Benque Viejo 31, Dangriga 48, Punta Gorda 50, Police in training 130, Canine Unit 15, Police Special Branch 65, VIP Unit 15, Tourism Police 44, Police Dragon Unit 90, Crime Investigation Branch 95, Joint Intelligence Comp Cen 21, Police Intermediate Southern 46, Anti-narcotics Unit 46, Scenes of Crime Unit 30, Crime Intelligence Unit 16, National Coast Guard 143, Patrol Branch Belize City 363, San Pedro/Caye Caulker 53, Belmopan Police 67, Community Policing 29, Rural Formation 79, Gang Unit 36…..or a total of 1,653 servicemen.
1. The security apparatus is widely diffused budgeted operation….too many fiefdoms, creating too many chiefs, too few Indians and excessive overheads and administrative costs…conducive to higher complexity and chaos.
2. The budget for national security is mostly for paying “personal emoluments”, with very little left over for materials and supplies, operations and training.
3. The relative budget for security related intelligence, which is key to prevention of crime and enhancement of security, is very small.
4. If there is a total of 1,653 servicemen in policing, working average of 8 hour shifts, there are only 551 officers on duty at any one time.
5. Airport camp was strategically located for the British, because they flew in their men from abroad and this allowed for rapid settlement and deployment at least cost and time to them. Our own strategic location considerations are different.
6. There is no money budgeted for emergency operations.
1. The BDF should be converted into a military police unit….with a new headquarters located more centrally in the area of Belmopan….this will reduce dispatch time and costs for greater efficiency and effectiveness. They should be trained in police and military operations on land, air and sea….providing for consolidation of maritime wing, air wing, national coast guard, police special branch, dragon unit, anti-narcotics unit, gang unit and rural formation under one operation and line-of-command…and consolidated budgets. Their focus should be on securing our borders and attending to the more serious crimes on a full-time basis. This would also increase the number of servicemen on active duty at any one time from 551 to 909 [increase of 65%], working the men 8-hour shifts….at the same time more than doubling the amount of vehicles, equipment, materials and supplies disposed to national security daily active duty. Working the men 12 hour shifts for two weeks straight and then giving them one week off makes for tired and frustrated men on the job…but does nothing for increasing the number of servicemen on duty at any one time. This rearrangement should allow at least 200 service men [22% of the on-duty servicemen] to be on active duty on our western and southern border at all times….which is the area that poses the greatest challenge to national security and sovereignty. The operations budget for this consolidated unit should be doubled…and paid for by reducing overheads and administrative costs….cutting the fat.
2. The Crimes Investigation Branch, Joint Intelligence Comp Cen, The Crimes Intelligence Unit, Scenes of Crime Unit, Forensic Unit and Prosecution Branch could be consolidated into one administrative unit with consolidated budgets…..doubled from their current levels…this is the only increase that would be necessary to the national security budget….or increase of around $7 million. Our preventions of crime and prosecution of crimes are ovital important parts of the national security machinery that need urgent enhancement….which would reduce the pressure on law enforcement officers….dramatically reduce the number of new criminals….and repeat criminals. Most crimes are committed by repeat criminals that avoid or evade the law….the rate of putting them away needs to be significantly increased.
3. The Prison Services budget should be reduced from $16 per person per day, to $10 per person per day….so that prisoners eat only what they produce, and what they can buy with what they produce and sell….and the $2.85 million saved should be used to boost the operations budget of the military police….such as maintaining a military helicopter unit [at least 3 helicopters]. The old BDF planes need to be scrapped and put in a museum. The situation where prisoners are eating more and better than honest law abiding citizens does nothing to reduce the tendency towards criminality.
4. A budget needs to be set aside for emergency operations.
5. The proposed US$30 million national security loan from Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) proposed by the Prime Minister should be used to finance this consolidation.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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