‘Defence budget should be 2 to 3 pc of GDP’
The Indian Armed Forces have very high expectations from the Union Budget, which has come ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Most of the officials emphasised the need to increase the budgetary allocation for the defence setor considering the necessity of procuring new equipment.
Pune: The Indian Armed Forces have very high expectations from the Union Budget, which has come ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Most of the officials emphasised the need to increase the budgetary allocation for the defence setor considering the necessity of procuring new equipment.
A high-ranking army officer said, “There should be adequate funds to address operational hollowness/ deficiencies and maintain minimal acceptable preparedness levels. The funds should honour all committed liabilities and for approved force structuring. This would require budgetary support at least 2 per cent of the GDP. The tax waiver on pensions for subordinates (JCOs/ OR) is needed. There should also be funds to address all pay commission anomalies and maybe also for the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP).”
Another officer said, “We are expecting an increase from last time so that capital procurements come through.”
An officer, who has served extensively in North-East India, added, “The major equipment (INSAS) are outdated. There should be more R&D industries in Arms and for Make in India initiative. Also, there should be more focus on the North-East connectivity and beyond as we are still using old shelters and facing poor connectivity issues.”
A retired officer pointed out that since this is an election year, the government is more focused on voters than defence matters. “In election year, does defence matter or a voter to any government? The budget shall be designed to suit the voters’ taste,” the officer added.
An officer from the navy said, “I will be happy to see defence procurements moving ahead and expansion of the Navy. New ships and ammunition should be inducted. Also, ration money to either be increased from Rs 98 to Rs 200 at least or ration to be provided as it was before.”
“As a developing nation, we have to be careful while choosing between ‘guns and butter’ as both are necessary,” said the officer.
What officers say
After assessing previous years’ budgets, an officer said, “The Budget should be between 2.5 and 3 pc of GDP considering the twin threat on borders. Last year’s allocation (1.58 pc of GDP) was the lowest since 1962. Under-allocation means under operational preparedness (1962 should not be repeated).
Adequate allocation for modernisation of Army, Navy and Air Force considering undergoing and future projects. Revenue expenditure to cater to maintenance of old and newly added assets. Enhanced allocation for ‘Make in India’ unlike last year, which was paltry Rs 44.63 crores. Allocation is needed for all weather connectivity for strategic roads in border areas. More money is needed for development of infrastructure in defence sectors and to clear pending bills of contractors of ongoing works.”