There were mixed reviews on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's statement that soldiers should be precepted to work with the police because $1 billion was spent annually on the Defence Force and the country should get value for money.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister told the media that members of the army welcomed the move to work with the police as she stressed that all resources must be used in the war against crime.
"We spend over a billion dollars on the Defence Force per annum...therefore they themselves seem to not have a problem in helping out. Let's get the best value for our money in terms of where we need it the most now and that is to deal with the crime in the country," said Persad-Bissessar.
Economist Dr Dhaneshar Mahabir told the Express on Wednesday that he supported the Prime Minister's statement.
"I am in total, complete and full support of the position of the Prime Minister. From an economic point of view, the resources of the Ministry of National Security must be targeted at the national security problems that we have which is the war on crime," he said.
Mahabir said the threat the military usually was confronted with did not exist at that time and therefore "it makes economic sense to use the resources of the Defence Force to supplement the resources of the Police Force so that the Police Force will have added numbers without the Government incurring additional cost, so the Government is simply being economically prudent by using existing resources to supplement policing in Trinidad and Tobago".
He said the question which arose was whether the military was trained to undertake police work and, if they were not, then the police academy could be used in this regard.
He noted further that, globally, members of the military were not only engaged in combat but werere also trained in search and rescue and the management of national disasters such as flooding and earthquakes.
Mahabir pointed out that in Switzerland there was a small military and a large number of military-trained people made up the civilian force, from doctors to lawyers, who could be called upon to guard and defend their country.
"In Trinidad and Tobago we would be wasting valuable assets if we do not use the military to combat the criminal scourge in the country," said Mahabir.
Economist Dr Vanus James told the Express that while he agrees the country should get value for money, there is need for a clear outline of the work done by the Defence Force.
He said the rationale that there was no war and therefore the Defence Force was under-utilised raises the question as to whether they were underperforming in works they are currently engaged in.
James noted that the Coast Guard and Regiment undertook tasks such as drug interdiction and the question is whether they were doing "super well" in blocking the borders.
"When I look at it through those lens I think there is need for a report and assessment of the miliary," he said.
James added that it would be troubling to move in such a direction without any clear evidence. He added that the people today just do not believe what the Government says.
"The People's Partnership Government," he said, "fails to understand that people want to be more involved in the decision-making process and require evidence before major decisions are made."
Political analyst Dr Winford James was also of the view that an assessment of the military must be undertaken.
"We need to have an accounting of the contributions of the army to the society. I am not persuaded by the argument that the army is not being used to an optimal level and they can be used to do police work."
James pointed out that the army was not created to do police work.