SOE costing the country almost half a billion dollars

A $505 million budget was presented to maintain the States of Emergency (SOE) in different sections of the island for 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Of that amount, approximately $168 million was spent on meals, and $184 million spent on hotel accommodation.

This means that up to December 31, 2019, taxpayers had already financed $352 million, or almost 70 percent of the budgeted amount on food and accommodation alone.

And these figures do not represent allocations to the Jamaica Defence Force.

DeVaughn Colquhoun, director of management accounts at the Ministry of National Security defended the need for hotel accommodation for the security forces.

“From a financial standpoint, we have several deployments from Kingston to the western end to support operations there, and these are specifically specialised operations,” he said.

SOEs were imposed in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, Clarendon, St Catherine, and in the St Andrew South Police Division to crackdown on violence.

But even as questions continue to raise about its effectiveness, Deputy Police Commissioner Fitz Bailey is maintaining that it would be more difficult to curtail crime without the enhanced security measure.

“The intention of the SOE is to cauterise violence. It is not necessarily to stop crime. We operate the SOE with all other types of police activities, including investigations,” he told Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) on Wednesday.