Shadow Minister of National Security, Michael Dunkley countered points raised by his parliamentary counterpart, Minister Wayne Caines, on the recent appointment of a British officer to become the new Commissioner of Police.
Responding to the Minister’s Statement in the House on Friday, the One Bermuda Alliance MP and former Premier, issued the following statement:
First, on page 2 of the statement the Minister focused on the record of the OBA in Government and mentioned and I quote “ from 2012 until 2017, the Bermuda Police Service, like other government departments, endured a season of significantly reduced resources and budget cuts. As with most Government departments the first budget line that was sliced was training. Because of the decrease in the budget staffing levels were also reduced.”
Well Mr Speaker let’s look at the training budget which is line item #17190.
Here are the allocated budget numbers from 2008/9:
- 08/09 4.008m
- 09/10 3.167m
- 10/11 3.734m
- 11/12. 1.685m
- 12/13. .676m
These Mr Speaker were all PLP allocations and it is clear to see the budget cuts came under the PLP and not the OBA as the Minister tried to assert from his preachers pulpit.
I will continue on with 13/14 under the OBA the budget was increased:
- 13/14 1.002M
- 14/15. .966M
- 15/16. .806M
- 16/17. .865M
- 17/18. .948M
So Mr Speaker, the record clearly shows the drastic cuts to training came under the PLP and no colorful language, finger pointing or emotive speaking can change that fact.
Secondly, since the Minister of National Security mentioned budget cuts let’s look at the record of the former PLP Government and the OBA in regards to the BPS.
The record clearly illustrates that for the last five years of the PLP prior to the 2012 election the PLP got it wrong every year.
Mr Speaker I will illustrate:
- In 07/08 the BPS budget was estimated at 57.1M
- It ended at 69.5 m, an increase of over 12M
- In 08/09 the BPS budget was estimated at 62.8M
It ended at 71.6m, an increase of almost 9M.
In 09/10 the BPS budget was estimated at 60.5M. It ended at 70.6 m, an increase of over 10M.
In 10/11 the BPS budget was estimated at 64.3M. It ended at 71.7m, an increase of over 7M.
In 11/12 the BPS was estimated at 58.2M. It ended at 69m, an increase of over 10M.
Mr Speaker, the trend is clear in that for five consecutive years the PLP Government underfunded the BPS and had to come up with supplemental funding.
So Mr Speaker the first point I made shows that the PLP cut training and my second point shows the PLP during their last tenure never funded the BPS properly.
Thirdly, Mr Speaker let me focus on the budget process.
During my tenure as the Minister of National Security, along with the permanent secretary, I sat with the COP every year to listen to and discuss the budget request by the BPS.
We always had a full, frank and broad discussion, including a discussion of manpower levels.
The Government was always clear on what challenges we had and the COP would have a couple of options regarding the total budget and each one of these was predicated on a different manpower level which the COP believed could deliver the mandate required for a safe and secure community.
During our discussions it was always important to make sure we planned recruit classes, supported the cadet programs and the Bermuda Reserve Police.
And this brings me to my fourth point Mr Speaker in that the current Minister of National Security alleges a distinction between the PLP Government and the One Bermuda Alliance in that the PLP is determined to build capacity among our people.
What a load of nonsense and political spin.
Everyone in this Hon House wants to enable opportunity and hope for Bermudians. However at times there are challenges along the way, such as experienced by the PLP with the dismissal of the Bermudian Commissioner of Education under their watch.
In my humble view Mr Speaker, the challenge faced today with the appointment of a Bermudian COP is not only due to the young retirement (age) of current COP DeSilva but also to the fact that the Deputy Commissioner did not apply for the job.
So like the PLP we support a Bermudian COP and as we said in the statement two days ago it is our hope that the new COP will have it as a top priority to ensure that officers at every rank and level receive the requisite training and experience to enable them early consideration as future candidates to fill the senior roles.
Finally Mr Speaker changing the subject slightly, in March of this year the Minister of National Security, during a statement regarding the Bda Regiment, mentioned funding would be found in the Royal Bermuda Regiment budget for this year to make progress on the maritime responsibility of the RBR. Can the Minister provide an update on the progress of this important matter.
Mr. Speaker thank you for the opportunity to clear the air tonight and opportunity to speak on the Motion to Adjourn.