India’s record in signing new defence deals has gone down steadily since A K Antony took over as Defence Minister, said a Parliamentary panel.
The panel also noted that the current year’s (2013-14) budgetary allocation for the Indian Air Force (IAF) for new schemes is only Rs 2,000 crore. The panel feared that this “stingy funding” could hit the IAF’s plans to acquire 126 combat planes for which Rs 15,000 crore is required as down payment on contract signing.
According to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, there is a “steady decline” in the number of defence contracts signed during the 11th Five-Year Plan period from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
“The number of contracts signed each year during 11th plan period is 84 in 2007-08, 61 in 2008-09, 49 in 2009-10, 50 in 2010-11 and 52 in 2011-12,” the panel said said in its report on Demand for Grants for 2013-14 presented to Parliament on April 29.
However, the committee did not provide the data of the number of contracts signed during the 10th Plan period from 2002-03 to 2006-07.“For the present year, merely Rs 2,000 crore have been made available to the Air force under the head ‘New Schemes’. It came to the knowledge of this committee that a sum of Rs 15,000 crore is required exclusively for MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) project, which is presently undergoing negotiations with the ‘Rafale’ company of France,” the report noted.
“The panel fails to understand that with stingy funding of 12,000 crore, how (the) IAF will be in a position to acquire MMRCA and the other projects lined up, including C-130, AWACS, flight refueling aircraft, and also attack, heavy lift and reconnaissance-cum-surveillance helicopters, and the Mi-17 upgrade,” it said.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram had on February 28 announced that of the Rs 2.03 lakh crore defence budget, Rs 86,741 crore will be capital expenditure (capex).
Of this capex, Rs 17,883.83 crore would be spent for the Army, Rs 24,149.03 crore for the Navy and Rs 39,208.84 crore for the IAF.
The panel noted the capex provided to the three services were much lower than what these services had projected as their requirement.