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Increase in spending for Regiment is welcomed

The Opposition has praised the increase in budget allocation for the Bermuda Regiment, saying such increases are necessary for the end of conscription.

Speaking during the budget debate, Shadow Minister Michael Scott said he was pleased to see the budget boost, saying that he hopes to see a year-on-year increase so the Regiment can boost advertising and provide greater incentives for volunteers while phasing out conscription.

“It should be a continuous increasing of the defence budget having regard to the critical role and the valuable role that the Regiment plays in this country,” he said. “More money is really where the emphasis is going to have to be.”

He said the Regiment must become more competitive with the public sector, suggesting that the service could provide greater educational incentives in order to attract more young volunteers.

Mr Scott said the Bermuda Police Service is doing an excellent job despite a decreased financial allocation, but expressed concern that the change of operators for the Island's CCTV cameras has caused some snags.

He said: “I think we need assurance from the Minister that this expensive contract is not being allowed to cause the police to back-pedal in any way.”

Mr Scott suggested the Ministry consider introducing a Youth Protection Unit dedicated to preventing young people being recruited into the drug trade saying that such an initiative could have a lasting impact.

Both Mr Scott and MP Michael Weeks questioned Mr Dunkley on the future of leadership for the Regiment, asking what is being done to ensure the next commanding officer is Bermudian.

Mr Weeks said: “If you don't have any money to put aside for leadership training, then moving forward we are in trouble.”

Mr Dunkley responded that the commanding officer is selected by the Governor, not the Ministry, saying: “I think we all would support a Bermudian. I think we all wanted to have a Bermudian as the current commanding officer.”

And on the topic of conscription, he said he intends to bring the National Security and Defence review to the House as soon as possible to enable debate on the future of the Regiment.

He said he remains confident in the expanded implementation of CCTV cameras but said that as with the introduction of most significant projects it is natural that there may be some “bumps in the road.”

And he told the House on the subject of youth protection measures that there are already several initiatives in place specifically to keep young people away from criminal activity.

“If you look at some of the programmes we have implemented recently and some that started under the PLP Government, we have a very strong basket of programmes that are showing some success,” he said.

Photo by Akil Simmons More spending on the Bermuda Regiment has been welcomed by MPs.

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Published March 14, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 14, 2014 at 12:53 am)

Increase in spending for Regiment is welcomed

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