File: Military Independence Parade rehearsals at the Queen’s Park Savannah last year.

Derek Achong

The Ministry of National Security will have to face an almost 20 per cent drop in its annual budgetary allocation.

Delivering the 2021 Budget Statement in Parliament, yesterday afternoon, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that the ministry, which always commands a large segment of the national budget largely due to recurrent expenditure, will receive $5.227 billion as compared to $6.44 billion, last year.

Despite the decrease, he made note of the Government’s commitment to fighting crime and criminality by highlighting measures implemented over the past year.

“The approach has been to ensure a multi-agency approach to this fight. The National Security landscape has been significantly strengthened in the past year and the positive results are beginning to show,” Imbert said.

The highlighted initiatives included the operationalization of the National Operations Fusion Centre (NOFC) and National Intelligence Fusion Centre (NIFC); the provision of additional resources for the Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) to tackle money laundering and white-collar crimes; the opening of state-of-the-art police stations and ongoing construction others.

In terms of border security, Imbert noted the upgrade of the country’s coastal radar system and the acquisition of two Cape Class Naval vessels, which are expected to be delivered, next year.

Imbert also mentioned the construction of several new fire stations and refurbishment of the country’s remand facilities.

He announced the creation of a new multi-agency border/port interdiction unit to address the trafficking of narcotics, firearms, and other contraband.

“We will also provide more resources directed at the fight against white-collar corruption. This will be facilitated by hiring more experts forensic investigators, auditors, lawyers, and others to pursue white-collar corruption,” Imbert said.

He revealed that the TTPS is currently developing special facilities in different divisions to house its Special Victims Department, which comprises the Child Protection Unit, the Gender-Based Violence Unit, and the Sexual Offences Unit.

During the budget presentation, Imbert also proposed a 200 per cent increase in the fines for illegal quarrying on State lands and for praedial larceny. The increases are scheduled to take effect from January 1, next year.

He said that National Security Minister Stuart Young would provide additional details during his budget presentation.