The Ministry of Finance is now declaring that a total $528,000 was made available in the budget for internal security before Governor John Duncan used his constitutional powers to force Government to allocate additional funds to the aforementioned area.
Governor John Duncan was forcing Government to allocate an additional $1.88 million for internal security, which covers the police and legal services
But Financial Secretary Neil Smith told the governor that an amount of money was already budgeted.
Governor Duncan however said the financial secretary was not able to tell him – among other things – how much money had been budgeted.
That lack of clarity, Governor Duncan argued, was not conducive to proper accounting, accountability, and operational effectiveness.
As such, the governor recently instructed the financial secretary and accountant general to ascertain – among other things – how much money had been budgeted for internal security.
Since that order was given a few days ago, there was no public clarity on the issue until late yesterday when Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, who is also the finance minister, gave the following update:
“The Ministry of Finance has received a warrant issued by the governor for $1.88 million to support the judiciary and the police.”
“It should be noted however that the warrant also include monies that were already provided for on account of earlier extra budgetary requests in the amount of $528,000. That amount was approved by the House of Assembly in the budget of 2017 [before Governor Duncan demanded more funds],” Premier Smith said.
“I hope that this clarifies the matter once and for all.”
Premier Smith, in the meantime, reiterated that his government has an interest in internal security, adding that it was never shirking its responsibility to adequately fund the area.
“My government is [unwavering] in its commitment to support all the efforts to keep the BVI a safe place to live, to work, and to do business. We recognize the pivotal function that the police force and the judiciary – among other very important institutions [play] in the continued peace and stability of these beautiful islands. I will not, at any time, sacrifice the gains already achieved in this area.”
“We applaud our history of being a very low-crime destination, and we certainly will do what it takes to keep it that way,” Premier Smith further said last evening, March 28.
He added, “I want to assure our citizens and all that invest in our country that the financial state of the territory allows us to continue to support all our institutions including law enforcement.”