Tackling Crime Remains Major Priority

Photo: JIS Photographer Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • The fight against crime remains a major national priority, with the Government committing additional resources and support to the security forces for the 2018/19 fiscal year.
  • The Governor-General said the Administration will be seeking approval for a number of legislative measures designed to improve crime-fighting efforts and better enable law-enforcement agencies to interdict criminals.
  • Other areas of focus highlighted in the Throne Speech include programmes to rehabilitate and make new investments in critical health infrastructure; accelerating construction of affordable housing and providing greater access to funding; construction and maintenance of water and irrigation systems; commencement and completion of road projects to ease congestion and improve road safety and security; and scaling up progammes to reach more unattached youth.

The fight against crime remains a major national priority, with the Government committing additional resources and support to the security forces for the 2018/19 fiscal year.

This was disclosed by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, who delivered the Throne Speech to open the new session of Parliament in Gordon House on Thursday (February 15) under the theme ‘Continuing on the Path to Prosperity’.

He noted that organised crime, along with the violence and homicide it produces, is the biggest threat to citizens’ security and continues to stymie the growth and prosperity of the country.

The Governor-General said the Administration will be seeking approval for a number of legislative measures designed to improve crime-fighting efforts and better enable law-enforcement agencies to interdict criminals.

These include the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act, Finger Prints (Amendment) Act, Firearms (Amendment) Act, Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act, Parole (Amendment) Act, and The Justice Protection (Amendment) Bill.

In addition to the legislative measures, the Government will continue to focus on strengthening its administrative and technological capabilities, crime-prevention and community safety measures, and rehabilitation and redemption.

The justice system will also be given special attention in order to reduce the backlog of cases and improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The Governor-General said the Government has committed to enabling growth and national development through a sound and predictable macroeconomic policy framework that maintains low inflation, a stable exchange rate and competitive interest rates; and improving revenue administration by creating a simple, equitable and competitive tax environment to enhance growth and ensure greater compliance.

Other areas of focus highlighted in the Throne Speech include programmes to rehabilitate and make new investments in critical health infrastructure; accelerating construction of affordable housing and providing greater access to funding; construction and maintenance of water and irrigation systems; commencement and completion of road projects to ease congestion and improve road safety and security; and scaling up progammes to reach more unattached youth.

Measures to establish a National Identification System (NIDS) will be advanced with the National Identification and Registration Authority Regulations to be developed and tabled in the House by September 2018.

Work will continue to digitise the records of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD); develop processes to link the records of births and deaths to prevent identity theft; commence transformation of the RGD into the National Identification and Registration Authority; and establish a National Address Database, which will indicate where all parcels of land are located within the island in order to support the enrolment of persons in the NIDS.

This year, the Government will embark on an aggressive legislative agenda to support its strategic priorities to ensure food security, sustainable use of agricultural land and fisheries resources, and facilitate an enabling local business environment.

Fire stations will be constructed in Montego Bay, Port Maria and Yallahs, two drop-in centres in Trelawny and St. Thomas, and homes built for indigent persons. Additional garbage trucks will also be purchased.

The Government will be putting measures in place to increase protection of women and girls with the tabling of the Sexual Harassment Bill this year. The proposed Gender Advisory Council is also to be established.

Work will begin to build out entertainment zones in Fort Charles and Fort Rocky, Port Royal; Seville, St. Ann; and Westmoreland and St. Catherine. The necessary legislative work and amendments to the various laws regulating entertainment will also be done in parallel.

Meanwhile, as it relates to education, five new schools are to be constructed, while money is to be provided from the e-learning budget to assist in the sustainability of information and communications technology (ICT) in schools from the early-childhood to secondary levels.

The support programme for children zero to three years will be given focus, and the Early Childhood Rationalisation programme continued.

The Governor-General indicated that the phased resumption of the rail service will be undertaken with the start of construction on Phase 1, from Montego Bay to Appleton, in this fiscal year.

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