Defence budget as percentage of GDP lowest since 1962 war, says House panel

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New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) The current defence budget as a percentage of GDP is lowest since the India-China war in 1962, a parliamentary panel has said and expressed its “unhappiness” over the share of capital expenditure in the defence expenditure being “abysmally low”.

The Estimates Committee headed by BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi, in its report on “Preparedness of Armed Force – Defence Production and Procurement”, also said that “nothing concrete” has been done for implementation of strategic partnership model unveiled by the government in May 2017.

The committee presented its report in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Noting that the future warfare is headed towards cyber warfare, drones, automated warfare systems, stealth technology and precision guidance, the committee felt that preparation for futuristic warfare has to be undertaken without any compromise on conventional war preparedness.

“The government may take steps for constituting an institutional arrangement to oversee the state of preparedness of the country in futuristic warfare,” the report said.

It said foundation of future warfare system is information technology and artificial intelligence and that it applies to all the three wings of armed forces.

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The committee said that defence expenditure has marginally increased since 2014-15 and when compared to Central government’s expenditure, the percentage has declined from 13.15 during 2014-15 to 12.20 during 2017-18.

“Defence expenditure when analysed as a percentage of GDP, in the last few years has ranged between 2.06 per cent (2014-15) to 1.56 per cent (2017-18).”

The report said that as per a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) study, defence expenditure as a share of GDP of China and France has remained the same, increased in case of Saudi Arabia and Russia, and decreased in case of the USA and the UK in the last decade (2007-2017).

“Keeping in view the scale of GDP the developed countries have, the decrease of defence expenditure as percentage of GDP in India, as per government data, is more noticeable. The current defence budget as a percentage of GDP is at the lowest level since 1962 when India-China war was fought,” the committee said.

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It said that in the current geo-political scenario, a country of India’s size cannot afford complacency on defence preparedness even for a two-front war while retaining its dominance in the Indian Ocean.

The committee said that allocation of adequate financial resources for defence preparedness both for current needs and expansion, and modernization plans “should be accorded highest priority” to enable the services to meet the challenges concerning safety and security of the country.

The Committee recommended that the capital procurement Budget should be in consonance with the projections made by the services as per Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) and said that resources allocated should be fully utilised.

“The committee members have expressed their unhappiness that the share of Capital Expenditure as a percentage of total Defence Services Expenditure is abysmally low and is continuously declining over the years. In the years 2012-13 and 2013-14, the share of capital expenditure was 39 per cent which in the year 2017-18 and 2018-19 came down to 33 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively.”

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The Committee expressed “serious concern” that dependence on foreign suppliers particularly for military hardware results in huge expenditure on import of defence equipment and also affects the security of the Country.

“During emergency situations the supplier may not provide us the required weapons or spare parts. Nothing concrete has been done for implementation of the strategic partnership model unveiled by the government in May 2017 which envisaged private players playing a key role in building military platforms like submarine and fighter jets in India in partnership with major global defence companies,” it said.

Noting that the serviceability of aircraft was 60 per cent against the norm of 70 per cent, the panel stressed on addressing the issues. The committee called upon the government to take all initiatives for increasing production of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd not only for the three services but also for export to other countries.

Rapping the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), the committee said it has “not been able to meet the country’s expectations.



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