Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said the Government’s decision to acquire $600 to $800 million in new surveillance equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), comes with the admission that it has failed miserably in addressing the crime problem.
Speaking at a People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting in Cumuto/Manzanilla on Thursday night, Rowley said National Security Minister Gary Griffith announced that Government was acquiring new aerial equipment for information gathering—pilotless drones.
“And the Minister of Finance (Larry Howai) admitted that the reason why this expenditure was approved by him, to be executed now, is because the Government has accepted that it has not been able to effectively treat with the crime situation. It is interesting that the Minister of Finance is making that admission today, and is informing us about this expenditure on the day when one of our most prominent citizens, the last victim to the crime scourge,” was being buried, Rowley noted, referring to senior counsel Dana Seetahal, who was murdered last Sunday.
“But at least they have admitted, through no better voice than the Minister of Finance, that the Government has finally concluded, that with respect to the question of fighting crime, that the Government has failed and failed miserably,” Rowley said
“When we (the previous PNM government) bought the aerial surveillance airship for $12 million, $12 million to secure us, to find out what the criminals were doing, to be able to save lives, they (the People’s Partnership Government) said $12 million in surveillance equipment was too wasteful, that it was too much and that Martin Joseph and (prime minister Patrick) Manning were playing the fool.
“Today we are hearing about $600 million to buy today’s technology. Ten years ago it was an aerial warship, today it is a drone...But they have admitted that they want to go up in the air to monitor criminals and others in the same way that previous (PNM) ministers wanted to be up there using the current technology to monitor,” Rowley said.