The defence ministry has backed a proposal to hike the financial powers of the three service chiefs from Rs 50 crore each to Rs 150 crore each, in a bid to speed up the modernisation of the armed forces.
On Monday, defence minister AK Antony gave his “in-principle approval” to the three-fold hike in the delegation of financial powers to service headquarters. The decision was taken at a meeting attended by the three service chiefs and defence secretary.
A parliamentary panel had in April recommended that the financial powers of the chiefs be hiked to provide momentum to the acquisition process.
The ministry is also seeking an additional outlay of Rs 45,000 crore from the Centre this year to build a range of military capabilities, factoring in “changed threat perception” — euphemism for the possibility of China and Pakistan coming together.
If the government agrees to loosen its purse strings further, India’s defence outlay for 2012-13 will rocket up from Rs 1.93 lakh crore to Rs 2.39 lakh crore. The proposed increase will take defence expenditure from 1.9% of the GDP to 2.35%.
The Centre had announced a 17% hike in military expenditure in Budget 2012, increasing it from Rs 1.64 lakh crore to Rs 1.93 lakh crore.