Finance minister Arun Jaitley made no mention of India’s defence allocation for 2016-17 in his Union Budget speech on Monday, raising curiosity over why the country’s military spending was not revealed.
Figures on military spending have traditionally found mention in the budget speech. Strategic affairs expert Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd) said: “I have been tracking the budget for more than 17 years and this is the first time there’s no word on defence allocation.”
The money allocated for the military’s modernisation in 2016-17 is expected to be less than what it was last year, with defence pensions gobbling up a large chunk of the budget.
Jaitley had last year announced an outlay of Rs 2,46,727 crore for 2015-16, an increase of 7.7% over the previous year’s budgetary estimates and 10.95% if calculated against revised estimates.
India’s defence budget had slipped to 1.74% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015-16, compared to 1.78% the year before. Experts believe India’s military spending should be around 3% of the GDP to counter China’s rapidly growing military might. India’s military spending stood at 13.88% of total government expenditure in 2015-16.