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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Budget: Govt increases military spending to Rs 3 lakh crore

The interim budget includes a capital outlay of ₹1,08,248 crore for buying new weapons and systems at a time when the military has sharpened its focus on upgrading its capabilities with new fighter jets, submarines, artillery guns, missiles and other weapons.

budget Updated: Feb 02, 2019 11:44 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Army T-90 (Bhishma) tanks move along the Rajpath during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, on January 26.
Indian Army T-90 (Bhishma) tanks move along the Rajpath during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, on January 26. (Bloomberg)
         

India on Friday set aside ₹3.18 lakh crore for military spending in the interim budget for 2019-20, a jump of 6.87% over last year’s revised estimates of ₹2.98 lakh crore.

The interim budget includes a capital outlay of ₹1,08,248 crore for buying new weapons and systems at a time when the military has sharpened its focus on upgrading its capabilities with new fighter jets, submarines, artillery guns, missiles and other weapons.

Presenting the budget in Parliament, finance minister Piyush Goyal said: “Our defence budget will be crossing ₹3 lakh crore for the first time in 2019-20. For securing our borders and to maintain preparedness of the highest order, if necessary, additional funds would be provided.”

India’s defence spending continued to slide measured against its gross domestic product (GDP). This year it stands at a mere 1.51% of the GDP, the lowest in decades.

Experts have argued that India should spend 3% of its GDP to build military capabilities.

If defence pensions and miscellaneous expenses are counted, this year’s budget has jumped to over ₹4.3 lakh crore compared to ₹4.05 lakh crore last year.

At ₹1.12 lakh crore, the outlay for pensions is more than the capital expenditure.

The outgo towards the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme for veterans has contributed to the government’s rising pension bill. “The previous governments announced OROP in three budgets but sanctioned a mere ₹500 crore in the 2014-15 interim budget. In contrast, we have already disbursed over ₹35,000 crore after implementing the scheme in its true spirit,” Goyal said.

Experts say the allocation is inadequate to meet the military’s growing requirements.

“Somebody on Raisina Hill is quite convinced that India faces no threat and there will be no hostilities. That can be the only logic for the declining defence budget,” said former navy chief, Admiral Arun Prakash.

“The 7% increase does not even keep up with inflation. Modernisation will definitely remain on hold,” he added.

Bharat Forge Limited chairman, Baba N Kalyani, said it is encouraging that the defence allocation in the budget crossed the ₹3 lakh crore threshold for the first time. “We hope that Make in India in defence will result in greater role for the private industry in this critical sector of the country’s economy,” Kalyani said in a statement.

First Published: Feb 02, 2019 11:43 IST

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