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National security ministry to start charging for services

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 20, 2012    

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THE public will soon have to pay for services provided by the Ministry of National Security and its agencies, including the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which have, historically been taken for granted.

Minister of National Security Peter Bunting told the House of Representatives Tuesday that, recognising the severe fiscal austerity within which it is operating, the ministry will be seeking to ensure that it continues to effectively deliver certain services to the public, "by adopting a cost-recovery approach for the services provided by the ministry and its departments and agencies".

"For example, increasingly, we see where both individuals and corporate entities require various police records or reports, motor vehicle accident reports, lost documents, accident reconstruction reports, etcetera, for employment, visa applications, firearms licenses and other purposes. These are provided by the police at substantial internal cost, but our analysis show that the fees charged are considerably less than the cost to deliver the service and, in many cases, we do not charge anything," Bunting explained.

He said that while the ministry recognise that its first responsibility is security, it is also aware that there are critical junctures where specific services to the public, both individual and corporate, are important and, with the fast pace of business time, is critical.

"In going forward, the ministry is going to ensure that we identify all the general services that we supply to the public which can be done on a cost-recovery basis, and ensure their effective delivery, without incurring any excessive burden on the public purse. Any share of revenues that come to the [ministry] will be used to maintain, develop and enhance our equipment and systems to meet service level requirements and to fulfill our security mandate," the minister stated.

He explained that the ministry has not been immune to the "severe fiscal constraints" facing the Government.

"When you look at our capital budget allocation, we will be hard-pressed to improve the motor vehicle fleets, the mission-critical communications systems and other new technologies, and the physical infrastructure to optimise the effectiveness of our security forces," he noted.

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