Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the current crime situation is a “nightmare” and a “horror” and she believes that government’s decision to increase the number of police officers in the country will not solve the situation.
During his 2024 Budget presentation on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that from next year, the annual intake of recruits in the police service will triple – moving from 300 to 1,000.
He also stated that an additional $80 million will go towards new vehicles and equipment for the police, and $15 million to create a riverine police unit at the Carenage Police Station.
Speaking at a post-budget press conference, Persad-Bissessar questioned the increase in recruits and how it work.
She said: “When is that going to happen? How does it happen? You get them today and you hire them tomorrow? There’s a whole process that has to be gone through, so don’t expect any new boots on the ground any time soon.”
She added that many of this country’s police stations are “dilapidated” and “have no equipment.
“They can’t even get paper to write up their reports on. Without getting disrespectful, they don’t even have toilet paper.
“So you going to bring in people, but you not improving, and then pelt money, pelt more money. That is what this minister is doing. “More money for this, more money for that, but no new ideas.
“More money isn’t going to solve the problem. You have to come with new solutions, new ideas, new proposals…”
Persad-Bissessar said it was very deceptive budget and while some of it may sound good on paper, it may not necessarily be the case.
“We see repeats of the same issues. So the promises are made, they sound great and wonderful, and when you go backwards, you will see broken promises.”
She said Imbert cherry-picked data and used percentages and statistics to make things sound good, comparing his speech to a book titled How to Lie with Statistics (by Darrell Huff).
Persad-Bissessar said she was happy the minimum wage would be increased, but noted that $20.50 an hour was still not enough.
She also said she was happy the issue of schoolbooks was being addressed, as the government will consult with stakeholders to attempt to standardise textbooks.