BDF to get major shot in the arm
Trade unionist Caswell Franklyn may not approve of it, but the Freundel Stuart administration is planning to put more money behind the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) this year.
Based on the 2016-2017 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue tabled in Parliament yesterday, the BDF is down to receive over $53 million in financial support this coming financial year, representing an increase of $3.59 million over the 2015-2016 allocation.
The revelation comes amid a strong call yesterday for the closure of the BDF by by Franklyn, General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UWU), who said the combined armed forces was a drain on the country’s resources.
However, Government is planning to increase its national defence and security preparedness budget by almost $6 million to $78.5 million, according to the Estimates.
Of that figure, the BDF has been assigned $53,295,150, including $9.2 million for retiring benefits, $44 million for non-statutory recurrent expenditure and $16.8 million for general security.
This year, special provision has also been made for vehicles, furniture and fittings, as well as machinery and equipment totalling $67,000.
Meantime, the budgets of the Barbados Cadet Corps, the BDF Sports Programme and the legionnaires have been trimmed, while there has been a near doubling of the allocation for the integrated coastal surveillance system to $5.488 million, up from $2.956 million for 2015-2016.
Financial support for the Office of the Ombudsman, which also falls under of the Office of the Prime Minister, is set to decline slightly to $666,993 from $672,081, while that for the Office of Director of Public Prosecution is to be boosted to $1.278 million, up from $1.256 million.
As for the Royal Barbados Police Force, it has been allocated a total of $109 million this year. This includes $85 million for general services, up from the $81.4 million last year.
Of that figure, $13.37 million is for wages and salaries; $2.58 million for utilities and $3.6 million for operating expenses, costs of which have all increased marginally over 2015-2016.
In terms of professional services for police, that figure has jumped from $80,000 to $144,800 while the allotment for travel fell from $256,000 in 2015-2016 to $96,000.