There are certain conclusions that one might draw from the fact that a large amount of development budget of the Police for the year 2007-08 is being returned to the treasury - because it could not be timely spent on the heads they were allocated for. But the explanation accompanying the story in a Bangla daily appears rather unconvincing. Because of lack of timely decision from the Home Ministry, an amount of Taka 112 crore has lapsed to the state. And the supposed reason that has prevented the officials of the ministry to give approval of various purchases -- fear of being held accountable for any financial decision - has added an element of the bizarre to the matter.
At a time when we hear so much of talk about the need for modernisation of the police and enhancement of its efficiency, inability to make optimum use of the money for whatever reason, in a cash strapped economy like ours, speaks volumes about the competence of the state institutions as well as that of the relevant ministry. Not only have the police suffered an organisational setback, because of this other equally deserving sectors have also been deprived of the much needed fund, which they might have used up efficaciously.
Although lapse of a part of the development budget of the police every year is not a new phenomenon, the amount is horrendously large this year. While it may not be a bad idea to save money on revenue expenditure like transport fuel and other ancillary heads, unfulfilled development programme due to lack of decision or inordinately long-winded procurement procedures, is simply unacceptable- particularly if that relates to a force entrusted with maintaining law and order and internal security.
What makes the matter even worse is the fact that the allotments were meant for the procurement of such equipment that would have added to the operational efficiency as these equipment would have acted as a force multiplier. It is distressing, for example, that a large number of police vehicles remain un-repaired because someone in the ministry failed to give the necessary permission in time.
Admittedly, there may be many other reasons for this shortcoming. It is for the government to identify and remove those. Perhaps the IGP needs to be invested with more financial powers, but what is unacceptable is that responsible officers of the government would refrain from taking financial decisions due to a unique and peculiar psyche.