Overall spending rises 18.4%, highest increase seen in Balochistan, Sindh.ISLAMABAD:
While overall spending on law and order by the federal and four provincial governments went up by 18.4% during the first nine months of the outgoing fiscal year, the only province that saw an actual decline in spending was Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, suggesting a slight improvement in the province that has been wracked by a Taliban insurgency.
Finance ministry statistics on government spending for the first nine months of the fiscal year show that the federal and four provincial governments spent about Rs116 billion on security and maintaining public order, about an 18.4% increase over the same period in the previous year.
Law and order spending includes expenses relating to coping with the aftermath of terrorist attacks, including compensation to the victims, dealing with internally displaced persons and the salaries and benefits of law enforcement personnel.
The government’s total spending is a fraction of the total estimated costs of the “war on terrorism”, which the finance ministry estimates has cost the country over Rs5.8 trillion ($67.9 billion) over the last decade, more than the total amount of deposits in all the banks combined.
The federal government’s public order spending rose by about 36% to Rs41 billion for the first nine months of the fiscal year ending June 30. The Sindh government’s spending in the same category rose by more than 30% to Rs21 billion. The province’s capital Karachi has become a battleground between rival ethnicity-based factions over the past several years.
The sharpest surge came in spending in Balochistan, which increased its law and order budget by 40% to Rs7 billion for the first nine months. The province has seen a rise in sectarian and militancy-related killings over the last year. Punjab’s budget, meanwhile registered a below-inflation rise of 6% to Rs36 billion during the same period.
Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was the only jurisdiction where law and order spending went down, by about 9% to reach Rs11 billion for the first nine months of fiscal year 2011.
Third quarter surge
The nine-month figures hide the tremendous surge in spending in the third quarter of the fiscal year 2011 (January to March), when law and order expenses touched Rs43 billion, or about 37% of the total for the nine months. It was also about 19.4% higher than the average of the first six months.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2011.