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Pakistan defence allocation at $9.6 billion, up by whopping 18%

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said 6.2 per cent was the GDP target for 2018-19.

world Updated: Apr 28, 2018 22:19 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,Pakistan Defence,Pakistan Defence Budget
Pakistan's Finance Minister Miftah Ismail presenting the annual fiscal budget for 2018-19 at the Parliament House building in Islamabad. Pakistan's economy is set to record its fastest growth since 2005 during the current fiscal year, authorities said. (AFP/PID)

Pakistan has allocated Rs 1.1 trillion (about $9.6bn) for defence in the next fiscal year, a whopping 18% increase over the Rs 920 billion provided to the military in the outgoing financial year.

The allocation represents the highest growth in the defence budget in more than a decade. Revised figures from budget documents presented by finance minister Miftah Ismail on Friday suggest military spending will hit Rs 1 trillion this year.

The proposed increase comes at a time when the PML-N government’s relations with the army’s top brass are under severe strain. PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif has alluded to the powerful army being behind his ouster in speeches ahead of the upcoming general elections.

The allocation for defence amounts to 21% of the total budget for the next fiscal and 3.2% of the gross domestic product. However, the allocation does not give the complete picture of the defence expenditure, as it does not include Rs 260 billion for pensions, which is 76% of the government’s total pension bill, Rs 45 billion for security enhancement and the allocation for major weapon procurements.

In his budget speech, Ismail noted sacrifices made by the military and paramilitary forces, and their success in eliminating terrorist hideouts.

The government has allowed an average annual increase of 11% in the defence budget, except for its first budget for 2013-14, when military spending was hiked by 15%.

While there was no mention of expenditure on the nuclear and missile programmes, major planned military hardware acquisitions too are not part of the allocation of Rs 1.1 trillion.

The defence budget’s details show that maximum growth (31%) has been recorded in employee-related expenses. This head covers salaries and allowances. Operating expenses, which cover transport, fuel, rations, medical treatment and training, has grown by 12.4%.

The ratio at which the outlay of the three services and the inter-services institutions will grow also makes for interesting reading. The army traditionally gets the lion’s share of the hike, but this time around, the navy has been given a 21.4% increase, followed by the army (19.7%), air force (19.5%) and inter-services institutions (18.6%).

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 14:38 IST