Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, during her response to Budget 2021, on Friday 9 October 2020. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, says the 2021 Budget has gutted the police service, and this will lead to severe consequences for law and order. 

Speaking during her response to Budget 2020/2021, Persad-Bissessar said there has been an overall reduction for the TTPS in goods and services—from $515,847,200 in fiscal 2020, to $334,689,921 in fiscal 2021—a reduction of $181,157,278.

She added that the goods and services budget allocation for 2020 was $515,847,200; however the TTPS only received releases of around $400 million, which represents a short fall of roughly $100 million.

The Opposition Leader said this means the TTPS will be unable to pay outstanding monies owed to contractors, which may affect the agreement in place to repair and maintain the TTPS’ vehicles and supply of materials.

She said this year’s allocation will see the TTPS starting off in debt:

“With the 2021 allocation being $181,157,278—as well as the $100 million shortfall in releases—the TTPS are starting the 2021 fiscal year in a $282 million hole.”

The Opposition Leader said with zero allocation, this means that for fiscal 2021 the TTPS will be unable to acquire any new vehicles to replace the ageing fleet, as well as vehicles that have been damaged on operations or are in for repairs; thus, fewer vehicles on patrols.

Persad-Bissessar also asked where are the funds for the drones the TTPS is asking for, to patrol the coastline and maritime borders.

The Opposition Leader pointed out there also was a cut in the allocation for recruitment of officers. She noted as well, there has been no allocation to the Gender Based Violence Unit and Sexual Victim Unit.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar also fears that the TTPS will not be able to afford to purchase the licenses needed to update necessary crime fighting software, such as the fingerprinting identification system.