Rising to respond to Albert Area Representative Tracy Panton, was the representative of the Caribbean Shores Division, Kareem Musa. Musa is the Minister of Home Affairs and he responded to the points made by Panton regarding the budget allocated to address the very concerning increase in crime rate. Minister Musa also hit back at Opposition Leader Moses Barrow.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “If you would allow me the opportunity to do a bit of house cleaning, sometimes you have to take out the garbage that the Honourable member for Mesopotamia was spewing yesterday. Compare that to what I consider to be a little more decent analysis as provided by the Honourable member for Albert a few minutes ago – misguided yes but in many ways Madam Speaker while she did not say so she was endorsing this government performance for the last year and four months. She acknowledged the fairness in our government that we are providing them with the Community Development Fund. She acknowledged that our Minister of Education does not play politics in terms of the development and progress of our children. She acknowledged, Madam Speaker, that they are getting houses under PUP. But Madam Speaker compare that now to my good friend, the member for Mesopotamia’s presentation yesterday. Madam Speaker it is clear that he showed up yesterday completely unprepared to discuss this budget in any serious analytical way. Yes I believe he was jet lagged Madam Speaker. He came here Madam Speaker and his entire focus as is always the case was in speaking of something that is all too familiar to him: crime and violence. Madam Speaker he spoke about the member for Fort George being obsessed with him. Well, I don’t know what you would call the way he was so unhealthily obsessed with me yesterday. It makes me wonder Madam Speaker whether he had a special friend named “Kareem” at Clinton Correctional but he would have to see a real doctor about that Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker his outburst yesterday about crime and violence and it was all lies and misrepresentations when it comes to his analysis of crime in Belize. Now I don’t know if it’s because he is never here, he is an absentee politician, he could pick up the phone and call me anytime and I can give him the black and white statistics you know Madam Speaker. So I don’t know if that he’s not doing his research, I don’t know if he is not listening to when I show him the black and white, I don’t know if he’s hardheaded, if he was at Mango Creek they would have his head tough like Landshark bottle. Madam Speaker he then went on to say that I do not want the opposition to be a part of the Leadership Intervention Unit program but how can I Madam Speaker? I consider myself to be a very fair individual and I believe in giving everybody a fair chance hence the reason I welcomed him in the first place to visit the Hattieville prison with me. But then I realized Madam Speaker that he would come and lie about the crime rate in order to gain cheap political points and I realized right away that he is not genuine. I have no apologies to make Madam Speaker because I will not allow any disingenuous Member of the Opposition to come and trample the good work of the Leadership Intervention Unit or to contaminate the program with bad mindedness for cheap political points. Madam Speaker solving the crime situation is way bigger than the ego of the leader of the opposition.”
According to Musa, under the past UDP government the Ministry of Home Affairs was neglected and abandoned.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “The Ministry of Home Affairs is a goliath that we realize the past administration had completely abandoned. I felt the neglect as we dug into work. It was a paralyzing neglect. It was criminal neglect. The Police Department was without basic necessities as basic as a proper fleet of vehicles. It was bad. I felt embarrassed for the past administration. At one point there was only one reliable pickup for patrols in Corozal town. The plan of that vehicle had to literally be tied with rope, after every pothole the officers would have to look to see if the pan was still there. When it rained Madam Speaker the officer had a better chance of staying dry outside the cab. Our ability to get to problem areas and to have timely responses was a feat by itself. In the end it was the victims and families in need that felt the effect of UDP failure. When we came into office we had to address the basic needs of our law enforcement apparatus. We are still far from a decent complement of vehicles but we have managed to deliver on 40 vehicles, motorcycles and UTV’s. We are on a steady March. With some difficult maneuvering we were able to secure a further 28 vehicles much to the delight of formation commanders and vulnerable communities across the country. Coming into office with the enthusiasm of my youthfulness bursting with ideas to usher in the new era of policing shining with innovation and technology we found out when we got on the job that the infrastructure was gutted and the morale of our officers dangerously low. Do you know our police did not even have radios and the communication system had collapsed? Well today Madam Speaker we can put the criminals on notice that we have secured digital handheld radios and repeaters. We have sent the Police Department back to its fundamentals so we can rebuild it by completing and publishing the new Police Department policies and procedures we can ensure that we have structure and direction to effective operations and services that the police provide. As those with criminal intent infest cyberspace we are preparing to police the borders of digital Belize with the assistance of our partners at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The cyber crime center gives us the capacity to identify, seize, acquire and analyze electronic devices related to cyber-enabled offenses from which we can extract digital evidence, that evidence that will be presented in court during successful prosecutions. We have been steady in our work to be accessed to the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime and we are currently engaged in negotiations with the United Arab Emirates to carve out an MOU in cyber security matters.”