ISLAMABAD: The capital administration has been allocated the highest ever budget for maintaining law and order in the city in the fiscal year 2021-22.
To ensure that the sensitive areas of the city are secure in the wake of protests, mainly by religious groups, additional police are deployed apart from obtaining the services of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) and other paramilitary forces.
But these extra deployments incur financial burden on the interior ministry which is disbursed through the capital administration.
Under the head of “Deployment of forces in aid of civil administration”, an amount of Rs12.09mn was allocated in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget. However, the year ended with the city administration spending Rs123.84mn.
“The extraordinary spending was due to money required for erecting containers as road blocks, food and transport for the large number of police personnel posted at Faizabad and the entrances to the Red Zone and other expenditure such as hiring the services of forces falling under the interior ministry like the FC,” said a senior official of the administration.
The outgoing fiscal year witnessed heavy police deployments and road blockades on several occasions with the help of containers, most notable in November and April 2021 due to a sit-in by the now banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Rs170m proposed for ‘deployment of forces in aid of civil administration’ against Rs12.9m in fiscal year 2019-20
The Islamabad police and other law enforcement were on their toes in May in the wake of protests by several religo-political parties against Israeli aggression in the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Besides, there were several protest gatherings by political parties even in the Red Zone. As a result, heavy police deployments were made.
The budget documents showed that the travel and transportation cost of the police had been increased to Rs87.48m against the allocation of Rs7.48m while spending on food and other essentials was Rs13.13m against the allocation of Rs2.33m.
Due to the massive movement and activity, the repairs and maintenance cost of vehicles rose to Rs21.43m against the earmarked amount of Rs1.43m.
Currently, three companies of Punjab Rangers are deployed permanently in Islamabad and the average annual budget paid by the interior ministry for it is Rs10m.
The budget for “Deployment of forces in aid of civil administration” in the year 2019-20 was Rs11.95m and as there was no serious protest or threats from July 2019 to June 2020, the spending remained within the budget.
However, for the upcoming fiscal 2021-22, the budget for the same head has been proposed at Rs170.70m with Rs88m for employees related expenses which include allowances for the police and other personnel in emergency days. Whereas the budget for food, travel and transportation on such emergencies has been proposed at Rs73m.
Responding to a query over the proposed heavy allocation for “Deployment of forces in aid of civil administration” in the upcoming budget, an official of the interior ministry said the increase had been made to streamline the system as funds were released on an emergency basis every year but this needed special allocations.
“We want that the emergency response funds should be available with the Islamabad administration instead of moving files in haste when any situation emerges,” the official added.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2021