National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, says that in spite of achievements made last year, crime and corruption remains the main obstacles to rapid growth and development in Jamaica.
Speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation’s (JEF) 31st annual business and workplace convention and expo, held at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston on January 22, the Minister said increased investment in the fight against crime and violence would augur well for the country’s economy.
“The truth of the matter is… investment in national security is an investment in Jamaica’s economic growth and development,” he stated.
The Security Minister pointed out that a number of studies conducted by the World Bank and various other multilateral organizations show that crime continues to be Jamaica’s biggest problem.
He pointed to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of the West Indies, which showed that for the last four decades if Jamaica had a normal crime rate, the country’s economy would be between three and 10 times the size it is now, in terms of Gross Development Product (GDP).
“And that doesn’t even take into account the pain and suffering and grief and misery that this has caused,” he stated.
Mr. Bunting also said that the country is currently ranked 97 on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) competitiveness index, slipping 30 places in the last five years.
“This has an impact on investor confidence and I don’t need to tell you about the impact it has on the cost of doing business in Jamaica and more generally, just eroding the quality of life,” he stated.
The Minister reiterated plans to further reduce all crimes by double digits for 2013. Jamaica recorded a seven per cent reduction in murders, shootings and other serious crimes in 2012, to register the lowest number of offences the country has seen in the last nine years.
Mr. Bunting informed that among the measures he will be implementing over the next five years to achieve his target, is an increase in the number of “boots on the ground”.
He noted that the Ministry is looking to recruit an additional 5,000 soldiers and police officers to further boost the crime fighting capacity of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
He also said the security forces would need an additional 500 vehicles, every year, for the next four years to improve their mobility.