The Punjab government’s decision to slash the funds of the police department by 3 billion needs to be revisited. The provincial government perhaps ignores the fact that the department is already horribly under-resourced. At a time when the government should have allocated more funds to the law enforcement agency on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, the government’s move is beyond comprehension.

The evidence shows the workload has increased manifold on the Punjab police after the COIVD-19 has hit the province. Presently, police stations are under-resourced and understaffed. Further cuts on funding for necessary facilities and functions like fuel, stationery, food and investigation will exacerbate the already present hurdles in ensuring better performance at police stations, not to mention opening up avenues for further corruption. Thus, shifting the funds to anti-corona efforts, when the department is playing a crucial role in curbing the virus, is tantamount to plugging one leak by causing another.

Moreover, the cops, frontline workers in every emergency, have not seen an increase in salaries since 2009. And the subsequent decrease in funding of the operational component coupled with the latest decision to cut its funds will leave the dream of reforming the department an unfulfilled one. The provincial government must be cognisant of the fact that institutional constraints that have hampered the department’s performance can be reduced through adequate funding.

If the statistics are taken into consideration, then the police share has seen a consistent decrease in Punjab’s budget. Notably, the operational component is witnessing a consistent declining pattern. If the government does not revise its decision of slashing a part of operational expenditure, expecting the police to function efficiently will always be a distant dream.