Two of the most critical security systems that help protect Barbados and the rest of the region, have been adversely affected by financial problems.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite told reporters this morning during the break in a Council of Ministers meeting of the Regional Security System at Hilton Barbados Resort, that – in one instance – officers of the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACTS) have not been paid their salaries for February, “because it’s been severely challenged”.
Brathwaite said he was expected to have a conference call later in the day on the matter.
“The institutions are important to our way of life. The peace and security of this region are essential and therefore we have to find some way within our national budget that we can support them. The work of the RSS cannot be underestimated and the work of IMPACTS cannot be underestimated,” he insisted.
“We tend to take our way of life for granted. The fact that I, as attorney general can go to Oistins and sit down tonight to have a glass of water, or more honestly, a cold beer, and I don’t need a security officer, is not by accident,” the AG asserted.
He suggested it was by putting in the hard work and spending the money, “we can do it”.
“And that’s why these institutions are important, and that’s why the fact that dues are outstanding and challenging the same institutions to do what they are supposed to do, is an issue,” Brathwaite observed.
He is of the view, that the region cannot not continue to rely on the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or the European Union to fund these programmes.
“At some point in time, they are going to say, ‘we need you to show you are committed, to the level that you are asking us to commit. That time has definitely come, if it hasn’t gone. So that, as a region, individually, each member state is going to have to spend more time to get it done,” Brathwaite submitted.
Earlier when he addressed the meeting, host Prime Minister Freundel Stuart identified the other security system which has been negatively affected by financial constraints.
In pinpointing the Barbados-based Regional Security System, Stuart argued that the scope and usefulness of its air wing, went far beyond the mere identification of vessels laden with illegal drugs at sea.
“Indeed, limited financial resources and equipment available, impedes the air wing from realising its full potential, and limits the RSS in the exercise of its full mandate as set out in the treaty with respect to the protection of our exclusive economic zone,” he stated.
The Barbados head of government was nevertheless convinced, that the air wing was performing admirably in the circumstances.
He said that one of the matters which the meeting was expected to engage the attention of ministers today, was whether, and in what ways, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Authority could interact with the RSS in matters related to security.