Army wants more

PM thinks that FM has taken care of the country's security needs in his budget for 2006-07.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 14:40 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thinks that Finance Minister P Chidambaram has taken care of the country's security needs in his budget for 2006-07. But the increase of Rs 7,300 crore in the allocation for defence has left service personnel and experts crying for more.

At first glance, the Rs 89,000 crore allocation may look good compared to the revised estimate of Rs 81,700 crore (in 200506 the budget was Rs 83,000 but the ministry could only spend Rs 81,700, which is called the revised estimate).

Sources, however, said that after closing a few important acquisition deals that are planned, the armed forces would not be left with anything to spare.

A senior Indian Air Force officer said the “allocations are certainly not enough. The gap between our neighbour and us is becoming narrow, both in technological and numerical terms. That has to be kept in mind.''

Lieutenant General (retired) Afsir Karim said, “How will the armed forces carry out modernisation programmes? Focus on social sectors is very good. But it shouldn't happen at the cost of the defence budget.''

This year's defence allocation is about 2.7 per cent of the GDP. Compared to our neighbours' Pakistan and China, whose defence budgets are between 5 per cent to 7 per cent, the Indian allocation remains low.

The Indian armed force's projected expenditure for any financial year is divided into two categories, revenue (which does not create assets) and capital (acquisition of assets like buying ships and aircraft) expenditures.

Under the revenue head, the allocation has been increased to Rs 51,542 crore from Rs 48,624.86 crore (increase of Rs 2917 crore). Capital expenditure for the coming financial year has been pegged at Rs 37,458 crore compared to last years Rs 33,075.14 crore (increase of 4,382 crore).

“The ministry might go in for supplementary demand for funds later,'' a source said.

How it is divided

The Army, with more than a million personnel, as usual got the major share in the new budget with allocation being increased to Rs 32,298.64 crore from last year’s Rs 30,683.14 crore.

The Navy’s, and Air Force’s budget were pegged at Rs 6,713.18 crore and Rs 9,858.41 crore respectively.

Chidambaram mentioned in his speech that better pension facilities are now available for retired armed forces’ personnel below officer rank. About 12 lakh such personnel have been paid some Rs 460 crore from January 1, 2006.

First Published: Mar 01, 2006 14:40 IST