Rs 5,000 Crore Shot in the Arm for Forces

NEW DELHI: In the first Narendra Modi government’s budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday provided a marginal Rs 5,000-crore hike to take the country’s defence spending to Rs 2.29 lakh crore in the 2014-15 fiscal, up from Rs 2.24 lakh crore proposed by his predecessor P Chidambaram in the February interim budget.

“There can be no compromise with the defence of our country. I therefore propose to allocate an amount of Rs 2,29,000 crore for the current financial year for defence,” Jaitley told the Lok Sabha.  It would still be far less — by around Rs 56,202.87 crore — than the Rs 2,85,202.87 crore demand projected by the armed forces before Finance Ministry early this fiscal.

Ahead of the February interim budget, the armed forces had projected a total revenue and capital demand for Rs 2.79 lakh crore. Over all, the Defence budget for this fiscal would be approximately 12.75 per cent higher than the last fiscal’s Rs 2,03,672 crore.  Of the Rs 2.29 lakh crore, net revenue expenditure would take away Rs1,34,412 crore, to meet regular expenses such as pay and perks, maintenance, and day-to-day operations of the armed forces and the defence ministry.

The whole quantum of hike announced by Jaitley would go towards capital expenditure on defence to create new assets and acquire new weapons and systems for the 13.1-lakh-strong Indian Armed forces, hiking it to Rs 94,588 crore from the Rs 89,588 crore announced in the interim budget. The Air Force has been provided with just about Rs 16,271 crore for new aircraft and engines purchase in the 2014-15 financial year.

Of the Rs 5,000 crore for the capital expenditure on defence, Rs 1,000 crore would go towards building the much-needed rail network for boosting military mobilisation capabilities in areas bordering China and Pakistan. This hike in available funds for the military would still keep the Indian defence budget at 1.78 per cent of the nation’s GDP that is estimated to be Rs 1,28,76,653 crore. To energise defence production, Jaitley said he would set aside Rs 100 crore for a Technology Development Fund.

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