Less money for defence, worries ex-Army chief

New Delhi : Former Army Chief General V Malik has expressed concern over lesser money allotted in the budget this year for modernisation of the Armed Forces. Admitting that it is so because of the non-utilisation of the capital budget allocation for the modernisation, he suggested a “non-lapsable, roll-on allocation” for defence capital budget as done during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a technical audit every five years to check optimal use of the allocated funds.

Analysing the budget allocations, he noted that the capital expenditure outlay meant for purchase of the war wares during 2017-17 is just Rs 78,586.68 crore is less than the last year’s allocation of Rs 85,894.44 crore. The reduction cannot be justified on the ground that the Armed Forces could not utilise Rs 11,595 crore or 13.4% of the funds earmarked for buying the military equipment.

The former General blamed the Defence Ministry for its cumbersome procedures resulting in money remaining unspent. Also to blame is the finance adviser who takes his cues on curtailing expenditures as loyal to his parent ministry than the one in which he is located.

“The delay in replacement of the Army’s obsolescent weapons and equipment, making up deficiencies in fighter squadron strength of the Air Force and the submarine fleet of the Navy to meet future threats and challenges is worrisome. Several big ticket defence purchases being worked out for modernisdation are likely to suffer,” Gen. Malik underlined.

He said this would also affect the indigenous defence industrial sector which is looking for expansion and supply orders as part of India”s ”Make in India” programme. He indicated a feeling in the Armed Forces that the government is coming in the way of their modernisation.

Gen. Malik said given India’s increasing vulnerabilities and rising international demands on it to act as a net provider of security as a rising regional power, the defence allocation and expenditure needs to be supplemented to create the capabilities which the armed forces will need in future. The inability to spent allocated capital modernisation budget needs to be rectified urgently, he said.

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