Barbados Home Minister Adriel Brathwaite is concerned that the country is spending millions of dollars on tackling crime instead of investing in healthcare and education.
The Caribbean nation has allocated BBD$155 million (US$77 million) to its police force, while other important sectors, such as healthcare and education, go hungry for cash.
Neither the increased investment in armed forces nor harsher punishments is helping the government to curb crime, the Home Minister said during a seminar organized by the Democratic Labor Party, according to local news daily Barbados Today.
“Instead of spending money on healthcare and education, we are using it to hire police officers,” he said, adding that first world countries use much more of their resources on social welfare.
The country’s rising crime rate, according to Brathwaite, is a major concern for businesses as well. Some businesses are buying security systems to protect themselves, and a few others are turning to private security agencies.
The Home Minister says the security situation is no better in other Caribbean countries, suggesting that all countries should join hands and confront the menace together.
Crime is a drag on Caribbean economies, because many countries in the region are spending an average of 3.5% of their GDP on tackling crime, said Brathwaite, citing a past study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
The murder rate in Barbados has in fact been decreasing in recent years. The country reported 21 murders last year, a steep decline compared to the 90s when an average of 26 people were killed in the space of a year.
Earlier this month, addressing a party conference, the Home Minister also said that criminal gangs fighting over supremacy were posing a larger threat than previously thought.