The Union home ministry has asked the Fifteenth Finance Commission, which determines how tax proceeds will be divided between the Centre and states, for Rs 50,000 crore for capital expenditures, largely to set up real-time surveillance and intelligence gathering technologies, The Economic Times reported. The ministry wants this fund to be evolved separately and exclusively managed by it.
In a letter to the finance commission headed by NK Singh, the ministry said the proposed National Internal Security Fund would address the shared responsibility of the Centre and states to ensure internal security. “States have a shared responsibility for internal security but not for defence,’’ the home ministry argued in the letter sent in March.
In November 2019, the Centre had extended the term of the Fifteenth Financial Commission by 11 months. It had also enabled the commission to look into ways to prove “non-lapsable funds for defence and internal security”. Besides this, it specifically authorised the commission to see how such a funding mechanism could be operationalised.
In its interim report, the finance commission had recommended a sectoral grant to the home ministry for housing and training police, along with other facilities such as health, judiciary and rural connectivity. But the home ministry argued that the choice of training and housing limits the “scope of internal security dimension in an ever evolving information technology scenario’’.
Instead, it has requested funding for technology, including real-time reconnaissance and intelligence collection. It said the sector should cover “dimensions like setting up cyber-crime detection and prevention infrastructure, acquiring IT tools and capabilities for real time reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence gathering, setting up of world class forensic infrastructure etc’’.
It said that state governments owe roughly the requested amount of Rs 50,000 crore to the Centre for the deployment of paramilitary forces as on January, and that those payments could be used to launch the fund.
While the police forces are maintained by state governments, the Centre too maintains five sets of paramilitary which are trained for specific tasks and are deployed during emergencies and other important events such as elections. Even though the maintenance of the forces is the Centre’s responsibility, the cost of their deployment is shared by states.
The home ministry also asked the commission to follow this disaster risk financing model and the National Disaster Risk Management Fund in creating the proposed National Internal Security Fund. It argued that even though budgetary allocations have been rising, most of the funds are used for meeting “day to day requirements” or revenue expenditure, leaving very little for equipment and assets. The ratio of revenue expenditure in the total budget has risen from 78% in 2009-10 to 90%, 10 years later, it said.