Cablegate: Atmar Leads Donors to Funding Decisions On Anp

DE RUEHBUL #3089/01 3360541
P 010541Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (SBU) Summary. On November 18, in Minister Atmar's first LOTFA
Steering Committee meeting, he steered the group to decisions to
fund an increase to ANP salaries, initiate a pilot project to test
incentive pay in targeted medium- and high-threat ANP districts,
reach a settlement on how to handle deceased and disabled ANP whose
pensions continue to be paid as salaries by LOTFA, and examine how
to handle the LOTFA food allowance that is due to expire during the
next GIRoA fiscal year. In conducting the meeting, Atmar was
delicate when appropriate, but more decisive when it became
necessary. In all cases, his priorities aligned with those of the
U.S., a positive sign for future cooperation. End summary.


2. (U) The Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) was
created in May 2002 as a means of collecting contributions from
international donors to pay police salaries and other remuneration.
It stands apart from the GIRoA central budget, but donors are in the
process of coordinating future funding with the Ministry of Finance
(MOF) so that it can incorporate donor-sponsored programs into its
budget forecasting for out-years. There are two primary LOTFA
bodies, the Steering Committee (SC) chaired by the Minister of
Interior and composed of donors and police policy-focused
international organizations such as the European Police Mission
(EUPOL) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
(UNAMA), and a LOTFA Donors Working Group for informal coordination
and preparation for SC meetings. The last SC meeting was in
February 2008.

Atmar Takes Charge

3. (U) MOI Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar co-chaired the LOTFA SC
meeting with UNAMA's Deputy Special Representative Bo Asplund.
After noting that he "suffers from a crisis of expectations" due to
the high hopes that others have placed on him, Atmar assured donors
that the change in administration at MOI would not only honor
previous consensus agreements but also accelerate reforms. The
first challenge would be fighting corruption and establishing a
system of transparency and accountability, one that includes
merit-based appointments.

4. (SBU) The most awkward (and enlightening) moment came right in
the beginning when Atmar began to review the Minutes of the last
Steering Committee meeting. He asked Deputy Minister Mohammad
Haider Basir, a holdover from the Zarar era, to provide a status
report on implementation of rank reform, a report requested of MOI
at the February meeting. Basir admitted after some hesitation that
rank reform had gone nowhere because officers wouldn't accept it.
Atmar then clarified that 4,000 officers had in fact accepted NCO
rank positions, and 248 were separated. (Note. Nonetheless, all
rank reformed ANP officers selected for retirement or separation
remain on the payroll. End note). CSTC-A MG Robert Cone said that,
frankly, the rank reform timeline was embarrassing. The process had
gone much too slowly, and it needed to be concluded as soon as
possible. Atmar said he would consult with CSTC-A and EUPOL and get
back to the group.

ANP Salary Increase

5. (U) The first issue for discussion and decision was a proposal to
increase ANP salaries by $20 to match an ANA increase. The LOTFA
Donors Working Group had discussed the issue at length without
coming to a conclusion. Deputy Minister of Finance Waheedullah
Shahrani offered that the Cabinet had already agreed to the salary
increase with the understanding that the USG would fund the first
year increase in addition to its other LOTFA commitments. Atmar
acknowledged the concerns of some LOTFA members regarding the
long-term sustainability of increased ANP costs but strongly stated
that security had to be the number one priority for the GIRoA
because without it, "there would be no state to sustain." Invoking
the London Compact, he said that the State would not be able to
support itself for many years to come, and suggested sustainability

KABUL 00003089 002 OF 003

must take place at a more strategic level. He said that pay parity
with the ANA was absolutely essential and that the ANP should not be
singled out to make a point on fiscal sustainability. Ultimately,
the decision was made to approve the $20 salary increase effective
the first of next month.

Incentive Pay

6. (U) The next proposal suggested creation of a 6-month pilot
program to provide incentive pay to ANP who serve in medium- and
high-threat FDD districts and meet other specific criteria. This
initiative parallels the ANA's $2 per day combat pay allowance and
is another means of maintaining pay parity between the two. The
pilot program hopes to facilitate recruitment, assist with
retention, reduce absenteeism, encourage deployment of recruits
nationally, and assist in completing the process of rank reform,
while at the same time ensuring that sufficient controls are in
place to prevent corruption and diversion of ANP remuneration.
However, only ANP who meet all of the following criteria would
qualify for incentive pay: 1) physically working in designated
medium- and high-threat districts (as identified by Voter
Registration Threat Assessment), 2) must be rank reformed and
serving in Tashkil-authorized positions, 3) must have ID badges and
be enrolled in the Electronic Payroll System (EPS), and 4) must have
completed FDD training. At the moment, districts in 13 high-threat
provinces (most in the south and east) and 4 provinces considered
medium-threat would qualify for this benefit. The estimated cost
for the 6-month pilot program is $6 to $8 million. The U.S.
(through CSTC-A) offered to cover costs for the pilot program, but
still asked for International Community (IC) contributions.

7. (U) Minister Atmar stated that both the MOI and the Cabinet fully
supported the proposal and appreciated the offer of U.S. funding.
After a short conversation the proposal was approved.

Martyrs Pay

8. (U) Under the current 1387 Tashkil and in previous years, ANP
killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty remained on the
payroll and their families accrued the benefit under a specific
Presidential decree. Atmar's Martyrs Salary Regularization
proposal, as approved by the Cabinet, would essentially move those
costs out of LOTFA and into the central government's pension plan,
while freeing up the 3,000 slots held by deceased ANP to bring in
new recruits. The Minister made it clear that this would not
address the problem of "ghost" police who remain on the rolls but do
no work, which he said was his responsibility to ferret out and fix.
Two complications are that the number of killed in action continues
to grow, and the number of permanently disabled is unknown.

9. (U) After further discussion and clarification of the various
elements of the proposal, the group decided that LOTFA would pay the
"salaries" of deceased ANP, as calculated at the end of the current
Tashkil, through the next fiscal year ending March 2010, after which
the GIRoA would pick up those costs under its pension scheme. The
estimated cost of covering "martyrs pay" for 3,000 deceased ANP for
one year is $5.2 million. Unfortunately, by March 2009 that number
will be significantly higher. In addition, over the last 3 months
of the current fiscal year the MOI will review those ANP considered
wounded or disabled, and those found to be unfit to serve will be
offered pensions paid for by the MOF in the 1388 Tashkil.

Food Allowance

10. (U) Under LOTFA, each ANP gets a food allowance of 100 Afghanis
per day ($2.00), but the LOTFA Project Document stipulates that the
allowance should be phased out during Tashkil fiscal year 1388. MOI
argued that with the increase in the cost of living, especially
regarding basic food commodities, the current allowance is not
sufficient to feed the average ANP and does not provide the required
caloric intake. Additionally, the ANA currently gets 120 Afghanis
per day. The MOI proposed that the food allowance be increased

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immediately to 159 Afghanis ($3.18) through the end of the current
fiscal year, at which point the situation would be reassessed. In
the meeting, Gen. Bashir said the total cost through the rest of
this fiscal year would be $5 million (Note. The actual cost at
82,000 ANP for the final 4 months of this fiscal year would be
almost $12 million. End note).

11. (U) The MOF said it could not pick up the cost of increasing the
food allowance. Since there was some urgency to reach a decision
and the larger Steering Committee could not do so, the group charged
a sub-group of the LOTFA Donors Working Group to come up with a
proposal within one month.

Other Business

12. (U) In other business, the SC decided unanimously to invite the
International Police Coordination Board (IPCB) to join the SC,
albeit without voting authority on matters of substance. Because
the meeting had gone on for almost 3 hours, the group decided to
waive a presentation on LOTFA's financial status and
accomplishments. Those charts show that the police remuneration
account faces a shortfall of more than $18 million for the fiscal
year ending March 2009 (budget of $189.2 million vs. pledges of
$171.1 million). The largest pledges for the current year are from
the U.S. ($50 million), Canada ($19.8 million), and Germany and the
Netherlands (each at $13.9 million). Of note, the EC, which has
pledged $10.4 million for the current year, has a carryover of $43.5
million from previous years that has not been spent due to
conditionalities placed on those funds by the donor.

13. (SBU) Comment. The LOTFA SC was a good measure of Minister
Atmar's political acumen. He began the meeting by walking around
the room and shaking everyone's hand. He then expressed his
appreciation for the contributions of the donors, adding that he
would expect much more to come. He also made a point of honoring
the memory of those ANP who had died or been disabled while serving
their country, an issue that may be close to his heart due to his
own disability (Atmar lost a leg in fighting during the Soviet
occupation). At one point, the EC representative made a series of
negative comments, stating there was no guarantee of another 2-year
LOTFA agreement (the current one expires August 2010), no guarantee
of future IC funding for police salaries, and that all new
requirements for funding should be viewed in light of Afghan
"sustainability." Atmar provided a strong response - the London
Compact assumed that the State would not be able to support itself
for years to come and that international partners would have to
provide such support; we need a strong ANP to be able to increase
national revenue; it was unfair to single out the ANP for a test of
fiscal sustainability; and that if the decision is left to the
GIRoA, whether police salaries are paid out of LOTFA or the central
Afghan budget, "hard decisions will be made in favor of security."
When Atmar asked if there was consensus to approve the increase in
ANP pay, the EC representative tried to protest but could not do so
before Atmar called the decision final. End comment.


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