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…Opposition challenges Benn to show evidence of 26% reduction in serious crime
By Lisa Hamilton
Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn told the Committee of Supply on Monday that there is a 26 percent reduction in serious crimes in Guyana but the Opposition has called this into question by urging Benn to provide data to support his statement.
Discussions on the same arose after Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Geeta Chandon-Edmond sought answers regarding the $5.4M advance taken from the Contingency Fund to purchase motorcycles for the Guyana Police Force (GPF) as she noted that in the 2021 Budge, $300M was allocated for land and water transport for the GPF for the purchase of motorcycles.
“This is against the backdrop that this advance was taken between the period April and June, a mere matter of weeks after the budget was passed,” the Opposition MP pointed out. She questioned how many motorcycles were purchased and what were the types.
Benn provided answers that 21 motorcycles were purchased to boost the GPF’s anti-crime fighting capabilities. Of the motorcycles, 12 were 150CC capacity and amounted to $5.4M. The remaining 9 were 8 were 150CC cost $3.6M and one was 125CC for $302,000 — both of which were funded by the GPF capital budget.
Questioned about the same, Minister Benn also added that the sole-source method was used to purchase the motorcycles but he could not provide information on when the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) was approached for approval and when Cabinet granted its no-objection to the contract. He said he would lay over the information at a later date.
The majority of the motorcycles went to the 4’A’ Georgetown Region as stated by Minister Benn, but when questioned by Chandon-Edmond he could not state what studies were relied upon to influence the placement of the motorcycles.
“The studies relate to the occurrences of crime and the types of crimes in the city-region area. Particularly, we might be aware that we’ve been many crimes committed by what are called XR motorcycles. In addition to which we’ve had a situation where we’ve has a deficit in the pickups for the Police Force. We’re still awaiting the delivery of those pickups and so the quickest resort and the most efficacious response to the problem that is ongoing was the purchase or more motorcycles. I would add that the result has been, so far, a 26 percent reduction in serious crimes overall in the country,” the Minister said.
However, the Opposition MP outlined that if it is that the GPF is purchasing more vehicles to tackle crime, it suggests that there is an upsurge in crime rather than a reduction. She asked that the Minister make available to the public the statistics he is guided by.
“You’re saying crime has reduced but given what is in the public domain we are of the view that there is an upsurge in crime. Can the honourable Minister state what steps are being taken to prevent the escalation in crime and can you explain the Government’s long-term policy to address the rising crime level in our country?” Chandon-Edmond asked.
However, the Chairman of the Committee, Manzoor Nadir cautioned the MP that such a question could not be covered within a short time and would perhaps be better suited for a written question.