Call for increase in public security funding

by Zacki Jabbar

With the end of the war there was a need to increase the allocation of funds for public security, while maintaining state security at required levels, the UNP said yesterday.

National List UNP MP Eran Wickremeratne said that 75 per cent of the Rs. 289 billion defence budget for 2013, which included Rs.4.5 billion for Urban Development, had been apportioned for the armed forces, while public security had received just 25 percent.

Policing as well as intelligence was growing in significance with the end of a long drawn out ethnic conflict and had to be given greater priority in the process of demilitarizing society as a whole, he noted.

Wickremeratne said that the Police Department had become a failed institution in recent times and more needed to be invested in training, modern methods of interrogation, finger printing, DNA testing etc.

The Police force should not remain under the Defence Ministry since its duties differed vastly from that of the armed forces. It needs a different kind of management, mindset and training. An example was the proper procedures that have to be adopted in interrogating a criminal to elicit circumstantial evidence. The delicate nature of the exercise warranted specialised training. All this involved greater investments in a separate Ministry exclusively for the Police, as was the globally accepted practice, he observed.

Asked if the Defence Budget should be reduced, Wickremeratne said that while maintaining required levels for national security, there had to be a greater allocation for education and skills training of especially foot soldiers who unlike those in the officer rank, who might have to retire in their early forties. It would give them the option to either continue in the armed forces or enter other fields of employment.

He said though the government boasted that not a single soldier had been demobilised, using the armed forces personnel for menial jobs such as cleaning drains and selling vegetables amounted to an affront to their dignity.

It was also inappropriate to include the Urban Development Authority vote under the subject of Defence, since they were two vastly different areas and should be separated, Wickremeratne observed.

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