NASSAU, Bahamas (BIS Press Release)– The government has increased its budgetary allocation to the Royal Bahamas Police Force by $4.5 million and to the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation by $9.3 million, and is looking into proposals to outfit the Royal Bahamas Defence Force with its fleet requirements over the next six years, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham announced this week.

“Maintaining public order is a primary objective of my government,” the Prime Minister affirmed during his presentation of the government’s 2008/2009 budget communication.

“We regard it as a singular determination to reduce crime and the fear of crime in our society. Indeed, all our efforts to bolster economic growth and development in our nation will be undermined if crime is or appears to be out-of-control.”

For this reason, Mr. Ingraham added, his government has sought to ensure that the Royal Bahamas Police Force, which stands on the frontline of our efforts to maintain public order, is adequately funded at all times.

“We believe that the total combined recurrent and capital allocation in this 2008/2009 budget of some $126.4 million is adequate to meet the spending needs of the police force in its efforts to fight crime,” the Prime Minister said.

When the government assumed office in May of last year, the Police Force’ recurrent budget was $108.4 million. The government immediately increased that amount by $9 million and is now providing an additional amount of $4.5 million to bring the total recurrent budget for the police up to $121.9 million.

The government also provided a significant increase in allocation to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force when it practically doubled the capital allocation of the Force from $6.8 million to $12.9 million in its 2007/2008 budget.

“We expect the capital needs of the Defence Force to increase significantly in future years as they seek to further enhance their fleet,” Mr. Ingraham pointed out. “Having ordered two aircraft and a number of sea craft this year for the Defence Force, we directed that proposals be sought from international suppliers to supply the Defence Force with its fleet needs up to and including the year 2014.”

As the government continues to ensure that adequate funding is provided to the agencies charged with maintaining law and order and border protection, it has also made provision for increased funding toward the growth of the country’s principal industry.

“The current global economic environment and significant competitiveness in the tourism sector require that we both increase resources available to tourism as well as spend our funds strategically,” the Prime Minister advised. “We are providing an additional $9.3 million for the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation in recurrent expenditure,”

The increase in funding brings the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s budgetary allocation to $91 million.

“We believe that this increase combined with strategic spending by the Ministry will go a long way in helping to increase the promotion of tourism over the next twelve months,” Mr. Ingraham said.