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Bahamas Tops Caribbean On Crime’S Economic Cost

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas leads the entire Caribbean on economic losses stemming from crime, losing $434 million or almost 5 per cent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) to the scourge.

The extent of crime’s impact on Bahamian economic output and wider society is laid bare in an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report, which shows that out of 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries, only Honduras and El Salvador incur greater annual costs as a proportion of GDP.

The study, ‘The costs of crime and violence: New insights in Latin America and the Caribbean’, reveals that the Bahamas is one of only two countries in the region where crime costs its citizens and residents more than $1,000 per person annually.

Once currency differences are accounted for, crime was shown as costing Bahamas residents $1,177 per capita annually, second only to Trinidad & Tobago’s $1,189 per person.

The IDB study described crime’s costs as “particularly high” in the Bahamas, while placing Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in the same category, with more than 75 per cent of Bahamian companies spending money on security personnel, technology and equipment.

Again, the Bahamas is second only to Trinidad in the proportion of companies forced into expenditure on security measures, which has become an ‘everyday feature of life’ for too many businesses.

The private security industry has been one of the few growth areas in the Bahamian economy since the 2008-2009 recession, reflecting just how strong a grip crime - and the ‘fear of crime’ - maintain on the private sector and wider society.

“In Honduras, private spending is almost 2 per cent of GDP – more than twice the regional average – and the higher bound is above 3 per cent,” the IDB said of spending on security measures.

“El Salvador follows with costs incurred by the private sector hovering between 1.6 and 2.7 per cent of GDP. The Bahamas and Brazil also show high private costs, with estimates varying between 1 and 1.9 per cent.”

The IDB study also found that when it came to the Caribbean’s urban areas, New Providence and Nassau led the way when it came to the number of physical assaults, robberies, burglaries, thefts and car thefts per capita. Nassau was above the global and regional average for all categories apart from burglary and theft.

The findings again illustrate why it is a matter of national urgency, and priority, for the Bahamas to get a ‘grip on crime’, given the enormous economic and social costs it continues to inflict, and which threaten to both undermine its main industries and overall competitiveness.

“Not surprisingly, the three countries in the [Caribbean] that lose the highest percentages of their GDP to crime are those with the highest levels of violent crime: The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago,” the IDB study found.

“The high levels of crime likewise affect the private sector in the [Caribbean]. The number of firms in the Caribbean experiencing losses due to crime, and the proportion of firms that pay for private security, are higher than the international averages. These costs draw money away from other activities that could potentially enhance productivity - such as the amount spent on research and development, which is lower than the amount spent on crime overall.

“Finally, although government expenditure on combating crime is relatively high, the money is spent overwhelmingly on police, but this has not translated into higher police effectiveness,” the report continued.

“Moreover, with precious little of the total expenditure going to the judicial systems and crime prevention, much of the sub-region has ended up with overcrowded prisons, where nearly half of the detainees may wait years before going to trial.”

The report, which has been studied by Tribune Business, seeks to measure crime’s costs from three perspectives. Apart from the impact on the private sector, and the spending by households and companies on security, it also analyses the cost to government in terms of public expenditures on the judicial and prison systems, plus the police force.

And, finally, it also attempts to measure crime’s social costs, particularly its impact on Bahamians’ quality of life, and income lost by the imprisonment of inmates at Fox Hill prison.

The Bahamas was found to lead the Caribbean by almost a full percentage point of GDP when it came to crime’s costs, estimated to cost this nation 4.79 per cent of annual economic output - a sum equivalent to $434 million.

Only Jamaica came near to the Bahamas at 3.99 per cent of GDP per annum, with just Honduras and El Salvador ahead of this nation in the Latin American and Caribbean region, both losing more than 6 per cent of their annual economic output.

Adjusting for different currencies and exchange rates, the IDB study found: “Trinidad & Tobago and the Bahamas have the highest costs at well over US$1,000 per capita in international US dollars.

“Argentina is a relatively distant third, with per capita costs slightly below $700 in international US dollars. Guatemala, Paraguay, and Honduras, in that order, have the lowest per capita costs at or below $300 in international US dollars.”

The Bahamas was also shown to be above the regional average when it came to income lost as a result of murders/homicides, the report pegging this at almost 0.5 per cent of annual economic output - a sum equal to $40-$50 million.

“On average, foregone income related to homicides represents 0.32 per cent of GDP,” the IDB study said. “However, this average hides enormous variability across countries.

“The Bahamas has the third highest homicide cost, at 0.48 per cent of GDP..... The third country classified as having a high social cost of homicides [after Honduras and El Salvador] is the Bahamas, with an average cost from homicides of 0.53 per cent of GDP during the sample period. The Bahamas had a peak cost of 0.64 per cent in 2011, and the lowest value in 2010 at 0.47 per cent.”

The Bahamas also incurred one of the high costs in income foregone as a result of the incarcerated prison population at Fox Hill, the IDB estimating this as equivalent to 0.35 per cent of GDP - around $30-$40 million - as result of inmates not being engaged in productive work.

Adding this to the 0.3 per cent of GDP spent by the Government on running Fox Hill prison, the report found the Bahamas was spending 0.65 per cent of its annual economic output on incarceration - a proportion that was the “second highest loss” in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Taking all this into account, the Bahamas led the Caribbean in terms of the social costs inflicted by crime. “Overall, social costs of crime are lowest in Chile, at 0.28 per cent of GDP, followed by Argentina and Barbados, both at 0.30 per cent,” the IDB study found.

“Countries with the highest costs are Honduras, at 2.19 per cent of GDP, El Salvador, at 1.44 per cent, and the Bahamas, at 0.94 per cent.”

When it came to government spending on the police/security forces, and crime prevention, the IDB report found that the Bahamas lagged behind only Jamaica and Barbados, pegging this at between 1.15 per cent and 1.94 per cent of this country’s GDP.

However, conversely, the Bahamas and these other two nations were shown as spending the least - around 0.06 per cent of GDP - on their judicial systems and the administration of justice.

The IDB report said this “overreliance on the police” to combat crime had resulted in the Bahamas having the highest ratio of police to citizens in the region - some 846 officers per 100,000 persons.

“However, high police density has not necessarily resulted in rapid police response or higher police effectiveness in solving and investigating crime,” the study added.

Referring to a survey of persons living in Nassau and four other Caribbean metropolitan areas, the report said: “Of those polled...., an average of 56 per cent said that if they called the police because someone was entering their home, it would take the police more than 30 minutes to arrive.

“It would take more than three hours, according to 9 per cent of respondents, and 2.5 per cent said there are no police in their area at all.”

The Bahamas, though, was said to have the highest murder rate detection based on 2013 data, pegged at 51 per cent.

And the Christie administration has been attempting to address the justice system’s weaknesses via the $20 million ‘Citizen Security’ initiative with the IDB, increasing the number of criminal courts and recently unveiling the Office of the Public Defender.

Comments

bogart 3 years, 10 months ago

True yinna can talk 'bout Security personnel, cameras, assaults, burgularies, car tiefing BUT yinna forgets to point out WHITE COLLAR CRIME where fraud and tiefing going on in teh fancy plush carpeted with air conditioning piping and attractive girls greeting customers. UNBELIEVABLE that fraud and tiefing by fellas who just as bad as those who shootin and jookin an raping is not mentioned especially in second largest industry sector of an INTERNATIONAL Financial nation. When bankers do not practice DUE CARE AND ATTENTION and are just PLAIN NEGLIGENT and when the Bahamas has around a BILLION DOLLARS IN BAD DEBT attributed to bad loans the highest in the Caribbean in mortgages and some 4,000 mortgage account holders and only these people are blamed for the default without any public investigation whether loan officers were negligent, acting without due care and attention - mind you all the loan application forme have been now changed indicating that it was not right or simply loan officers were trying to meet high loan targets set by foreign countries is highly suspicious that all the customers were wrong but noone in any bank did wrong. Disappointed that wannabee politicians want to be elected first but cat gat dey tongue when it come bout talkin on WHITE COLLAR CRIME. When bankers are caught it would appear there is some settlement and they move on with another financial job elsewhere. Look at all those persons get let go and in cases actually get a severencing or payment and the story never hits the newspaper. And yinna think murderin and jookin an tiefing can a sardine is big - yinna needs to look at white collar crime too.

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banker 3 years, 10 months ago

All you need to do is looked at the LinkedIn networks of say .. cabinet ministers and politicians and see how they are networked with known, wanted, white collar criminals.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 10 months ago

Don't worry ........... Perry, AMG, Brave, Fweddy and Fitzie won't read the report .......... and VAG and BBBrad will say that this report is a fraud ........... and PLPs will say this is a plot to overthrow a black government ........... smdh

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SP 3 years, 10 months ago

...... "PLP ALL THE WAY"-TO NOWHERE! .......

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steplight 3 years, 10 months ago

The Reason why 434 million dollars spent on crimes of arrogance social degradation cultural POlicide approach to nation building using vodou moral code vices of greed and dishonor. Sir Harry Oakes murder as a blood covenant was used to reinstate the vodou aura of invincibility debunked on February 13th 1864.This revenge murder by Ural Farquharson because 8 vodou practitioners failed to see consequences for the December 1863 kidnapping,slaughter and cannibalism of an underage Haitian girl had lead to the idea New Providence Island had become the most northern border of Haiti, Paul H.Farquharson as the son of the most wanted man in law enforcement and political history entitled to the rank of Commissioenr Of Police of the Trojan war horse of aggression in a war set in motion on July 7th 1973 that for 43 years lead to the arbitrary arrest,detention and exile of the woman pointed out in the HOA and RBPF Mandate April 11th 1963 as the granddaughter of Mrs.Clothilda SMith nee Adderley who defeated Ural in July 1950 by prayer.Ural's Easter 1948 assault of 12 year old underage student Grace Smith forced into parenthood as Scapegoat to bear the Smoking Gun Calvese on Christmas Day at Burnt Ground,Long Island sealed the fate of the headteacher mulatto hired Haitian helper at Westbourne Estates,as the most wanted criminal in the history of the Royal Bahamas Police Force penned in plain sight of the organization.Subverting this New Republic Of Haiti Declaration OF Independence Preliminary Declaration Articles 12,13 of 1805 Haitian Constitution,the January 20th 2017 swearing of President Donald J.Trump nullified the extension of the Haitian EMipre to all territories represented by Oakes on July 7th 1943.The vicious snake and tender woman poem was a reality check.A counterfeit Bahamas on May 7th 2012 shew the changes of the proven leadership in crimes of hubris in policing and politics uniting since the infancy of the Bahamas coming to the forefront of the world as a people of excellence.The identity taken on by vodou practitioners was a comedy and tragedy 43 years long to show the 73 year long POlicide attempt to derail dreams and aspirations of an island Paradise while seeking subjugation tactics for humiliations suffered in the Parsley Massacre when violence shew Haitians the way back to Haiti forcefully.Cultural indifferences with scapegoating and flouting had turned Paradise to the brink of hell.A police force Trojan horse as a means of a cocaine cartel leaves question regarding civility,integrity,credibility and competency of the leadership since 1985 8th CHOGM October 16-22nd display of the Bahamas being the safest place on earth with God as Sovereign..

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banker 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't understand a word of this, but whatever you are taking, I want some.

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bogart 3 years, 10 months ago

WHITE COLLAR CRIMES should include investigations where individuals or groups are victims of Banks, Insurance Companies etc where the victim is obviously left broke and has noone to turn to as LAWYERS will claim to have a conflict in representing the victim in challanging these institutions as they fear being denied future business. This crime include Bankers not acting WITH DUE CARE AND ATTENTION IN YOUR LOANS CAUSING CATHOSTROPHIC FAILURE also being NEGLIGENT IN NOT ENSURING THAT YOU ARE GIVEN A FAIR CHANCE OF SUCCESS etc, not asking questions etc OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BUT DID NOTHING etc. White collar crimes include LAND FRAUD, questions of QUIETING OF TITLES, ripped off by CAR SELLERS, BUSINESSES. INVESTIGATIONS are needed into govt entitities where auditors have raised questions like ROAD TRAFFIC, HOSPITAL, JUNKANOO CARNIVAL Banks being cited in charges involving COB employee depositing questionable funds. BANK OF THE BAHAMAS where share prices have suddenly dropped. ALSO needed are inquires involving employees terminated who have responsibilities for protecting institutions but were given a salary payoff instead of being fired for not protecting these institutions. WHITE COLLAR CRIMES need to be mentioned and investigated.

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Alex_Charles 3 years, 10 months ago

While I don't think crime should be a political issue, the PLP made it one in their 2012 campaign...

It's hard to even say where we should begin because we have no idea what the hell they are even going in the first place. Preventative social measures are indeed tried true and tested to systemically reduce crime. however, while the current administration seems to have made commitments to taking that stance with Urban Renewal and several other initiatives that they never tell the public, we have no indicators of success. We don't even know what to look for, we're just out in the open field staring into the abyss of crime. Communication seriously sucks.

We have a lo of work to do

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 10 months ago

Crime is a political issue ........... the criminals love the PLP in power (Toggie and Bobo got government contracts from Brave) and sold fish to HAM ............ BOL

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 10 months ago

At least we now know that wutless drowsy B J Nottage and his equally grossly icompetent sidekicks, Keith Bell and Commssioner Greenslade, are costing us at least $434 million dollars annually. But many of us rightfully suspect the true cost of their incompetence in fighting crime in the Bahamas far exceeds that amount.

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