Faced with a spiraling increase in crime capped by the murder this month of a 13 year old girl and that of an accident and trauma medical doctor yesterday, the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow today announced a minor cabinet reshuffle and emergency funds to combat crime. Buried among the minutia is the apparent displeasure of the P.M. with his minister of national security John Saldivar who has been stripped of the Immigration and Nationality portfolio. A press release issued today says:
The fight against crime continues to be Government’s number one preoccupation. The Administration is determined to halt the downward spiral, and begin now to recapture lost ground.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Finance has made a special transfer of $300 thousand dollars to the Ministry of National Security for the purchase of special equipment for the Belize Police Department’s reconfigured strategy to combat violent crime.
Cabinet’s approval of the Draft Budget to be presented to the House next Friday ensured ample funding for National Security. This included an increase for fuel and other operating expenses.
In keeping with the new thrust, the Prime Minister has decided to move the Department of Immigration out of the Ministry of National Security. This will free the Ministry of National Security to administratively and operationally focus exclusively on its core, now singular, mandate.
The Immigration Department will therefore move to the Ministry of Local Government, Labour and NEMO; and Minister of State Elvin Penner, who has special responsibility for Immigration, will also move with the Department to the new Ministry.