Government admits allocating less than forces’ budget projection

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New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) The government on Wednesday admitted that allocations made in the budget for the three forces were less than the projected amount, adding that if needed, schemes can be “repiroritised” to ensure that critical acquisitions are made.

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the budgetary allocation under the Capital head — which is part of the allocation used for modernisation and purchases — was around Rs 76,765 crore less than what the Army, Navy and Air Force had sought.

As per the reply, the total projection by the three forces was of around Rs 1,60,198 crore, while the allocation for capital expenditure was around Rs 83,433 crore.

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Under the revenue expenditure head, which is primarily for payment of salaries and other recurring expenditures, the projection by the forces was Rs 2,10,821 crore, and the allocation made was Rs 1,75,451 crore. The shortfall between the amount demanded by the three forces and the allocation made is around Rs 35,370 crore.

“The allocated funds are optimally and fully utilised towards operational activities. However, if required, the schemes will be reprioritised to ensure that urgent and critical capabilities are acquired without any compromise to operational preparedness,” the Minister said in his reply.

This comes after the Parliamentary Committee on Defence rapped the government over low allocation to the forces.

According to the report of the panel, the total projection made by the Indian Army (including Revenue and Capital Budget) was Rs 1,96,387.36 crore and the allocation made was Rs 1,53,875.22 crore. Thus, there was a shortfall of Rs 42,512.14 crore.

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In the case of Indian Navy, the panel observed that under the non-salary expenditure, while the Navy had projected a requirement of Rs 11,320.39 crore, the allocation was Rs 7,985.06 crore, which is only 70.54 per cent of the projected requirement. It also noted that the Naval Budget to the total Defence Budget was witnessing a consistent decline.

In the allocations for the Indian Air Force, the committee said for the current year 2018-19, the Air Force had made a projection of Rs 1,14,526 crore while the allocation is only to the tune of Rs 65,891 crore.

Out of this allocation, the Revenue budget allocation is Rs 30,121 crore as against a projection of Rs 36,561 crore. This amounts to a shortfall of Rs 6,440 crore vis-a-vis the projection.

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Vice Chief of Indian Army Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand has been quoted in one of the panel reports as saying that the Budget has “dashed our hopes” and may cause a “setback”.

A senior Army official has also been quoted in the committee report as saying that a possibility of a two-front war is a “reality” but the current budget for the Army does “little to contribute to this requirement”.

–IANS

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