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JDF Gets US$11.6 Million To Improve Offshore Patrol And Aerial Surveillance

JDF Gets US$11.6 Million To Improve Offshore Patrol And Aerial Surveillance
In this file photo a convoy of Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMVs) departs Up Park Camp.

KINGSTON (JIS) -- A sum of US$11.6 million has been allocated to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard and Air Wing in the 2017/18 financial year to improve its offshore patrol and aerial surveillance capabilities. Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, made the disclosure in his Budget Debate presentation, titled ‘Journey to Prosperity’, in the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 9. He said the allocation is part of a three-year programme, valued at $6.6 billion (US$51.4 million), which aims to improve the capacity of the JDF to eradicate the guns-for-drugs trade. This is in light of evidence indicating that violent crimes are being fuelled by the trade. He said the investment will also serve to provide greater protection of the fishing industry and improve search and rescue operations. The first tranche of the funds of US$33.6 million was expended in the 2016/17 financial year, and the third tranche of US$9 million will be programmed in 2018/19.

Minister Shaw noted that $1 billion was expended during the current financial year to upgrade the information and communications technology (ICT) capability of the police, the JDF and the Correctional Services department.

“Funds have also been made available to the Ministry of National Security for the upgrading and refurbishing of police stations and the acquisition of motor vehicles. Over $400 million has been spent on improving the mobility of the security forces,” he indicated.

Mr. Shaw pointed out that the 2017/18 Budget includes provisions to continue with the acquisition of equipment to secure the country’s borders, complete the ICT upgrade, acquire additional motor vehicles, rehabilitate police stations, and construct the Lathbury Barracks at Up Park Camp.

The Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) has also been allocated $1.3 billion to continue the implementation of social-intervention programmes, with an increased focus on improving governance and promoting behaviour change.

This is to be achieved through conflict resolution, social inclusion and safety, and increased use of gender-responsive justice services through the Legal Aid Council, Victim Support Services and The Justice Training Institute.

The Ministry of National Security has been allocated $3 billion, which is 24 per cent of the total Capital A budget.