NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to increase cash allotments to the defence ministry and further relax procurement norms for defence equipment as tension along the India-China border flared up into a violent clash between the two countries this week.
According to highly placed sources in the Finance Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked them to relax budget strictures for the defence sector.
“Although the defence budget was better compared to other ministries, there was some scaling down measures on fresh expenses keeping in view the economic slowdown. However, given the recent development, PMO has suggested to give quick clearance to defence spending,” a top official with the Finance Ministry said.
The official added that all essential procurement orders are to be cleared on a fast-track basis. “The finance ministry is also working on relaxing procurement norms to ensure speedy processing, “ the official said, adding that the decision came after an emergency meet between the PMO, Defence ministry and the Finance ministry.
The move comes almost two weeks after the Centre put all fresh procurements under hold. “No new proposal for a scheme/sub-scheme, whether under delegated powers to the administrative ministry.., should be initiated this year except the proposals announced under the PMGKY or the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package and any other special package/announcement,” the Department of Expenditure had said in an office memorandum dated June 4, adding that any exception would require its approval.
In the Union Budget for this fiscal, Rs 3.37 lakh crore was the defence budget, up by only 5.8 per cent over the previous year. Defence experts and analysts had already warned that the amount is unlikely to meet new demands for weapons purchases and modernisation, with about 90 per cent likely to be exhausted on existing obligations.