FM skips defence in budget speech, around 10 percent hike in allocation

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) For the first time in recent memory, there was no mention of defence in the budget for 2016-17 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented in the Lok Sabha on Monday, allocating Rs. 2,49,099 crore, 12.59 percent of the total, for the sector.

An allocation of Rs.82,332.66 crore has been made for for defence pensionsioners and this will also cover the payouts under the One Rank One Pension scheme.

The allocation marks around 10 percent increase over the revised estimate of 2015-16, which was Rs. 2,24,636 crore.

Of the Rs.2,49,099 crore allocated, Rs.1,62,759 crore is for revenue expenditure which includes provision towards ordinance factories, R&D, DGQA, Rashtriya Rifles, Military Farms, ECHS and NCC.

Capital expenditure has been pegged at Rs.86,340 crore.

Defence expert and Director of Society for Policy Study C. Uday Bhaskar said it was “intriguing” that the finance minister did not refer to defence in his budget.

“This is very intriguing this is first time in 30 years we have not had one reference in finance minister’s speech. Usually there is a mention,” Bhaskar told IANS.

“It was an intriguing departure that the finance minister’s speech did not contain this mandatory reference,” he said.

The defence expert quoted figures from the previous year budget in this regard.

“In financial year 2015-16,the budget estimate was Rs.3,10,079 crore and the revised estimate was Rs.2,93,579 crore. So, almost Rs.16,000 crore was unutilised. Similarly, in the capital component, the budget estimate was Rs.98,175 crore and the revised estimate was Rs.85,112 crore, which means around Rs. 13,000 crore was returned,” he said.

“This may have been done to maintain the fiscal deficit. This will, however, have an adverse effect on modernisation of the forces,” he said.

Bhaskar also felt that the increased allocation for the home ministry meant the government is focusing on shifting to internal security.

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