Against the backdrop of the global economic downturn and the country’s fiscal troubles, Union Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday asked the IAF top brass to strictly adhere to the austerity measures suggested by the Union Ministry of Finance (MoF). He, however, hastened to add that the funds for its critical procurements would be made available.
The Defence Minister’s remarks came during the three-day IAF Commanders’ conference, which was attended by Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne.
The meet, which has as its theme ‘Enhancement of Operational Infrastructure and Security’, takes place within a fortnight of the IAF completing its largest ever air exercise to validate its two-front war doctrine that envisions countermeasures through rational deployment of forces on the Eastern, Northern and Western frontiers, in case simultaneous war breaks out with both China and Pakistan. “Though the availability of funds shall never be an issue, we need to strictly observe austerity measures circulated by the MoF,” Antony said.
Antony, who asked the IAF top brass to prioritise the procurements in the 2013-14 fiscal as was done in the previous financial year, said, “Efforts must be made to cut down expenditure on non-core activities and avoidable ceremonial formalities.” Interestingly, Antony’s advice comes at a time when the IAF is all set to clinch deals for the 126 fighter planes, 22 attack helicopters, 15 heavy lift helicopters and six mid-air refuellers, the total cost of which comes to around `1.2 lakh crore.Out of the total `2.04lakh crore defence outlay for 2013-14, the IAF received `18,295 crore for its revenue expenditure and `38,557 crore for capital expenditure, which was the highest among the three services. As part of the MoF’s cost-cutting measures, the MoD had to surrender `14,903 crore out of the total `1.93 lakh set apart for the defence sector in the 2012-13 Budget.
Besides, Antony stressed on his favourite theme of indigenous defence production and self-reliance in meeting the military needs.