Defence Budget 2016-17 – Lowest rise
[ By Ranjeet Kumar
P] robably this year’s defence budget (2016-17) has seen the lowest rise in the history of defence budgets. The negligible rise in this year’s defence budget will shock the armed forces and the strategic community who visualise a new great power role for the country. The NDA Government has made a very meagre provision of ` 2,49,099 crore which is just ` 2,372 crore more than ` 2,46,727 crore defence budget of last year (2015-16).
The negligible increase of just 0.96 per cent gets more worrisome in view of the heavy devaluation of Indian currency compared to last year, when it hovered around ` 62-63 for one US dollar in comparison to present-day foreign exchange rate of around ` 68-69. Since the Indian armed forces are dependent on imports to the extent of 65 per cent, this year’s provision of just ` 88,340 crore for the capital outlay, i.e. for the modernisation of the armed forces will not be sufficient for the various acquisitions that the NDA Government has promised in accordance with its ethos of making India militarily strong. Also, last year’s defence budget (2015-16) comprised 13.88 per cent of the total Central budget, which has now gone down to 10 per cent.
Also, the Manohar Parrikar-led Ministry of Defence (MoD) has cleared defence projects worth over ` 1,50,000 crore over the last year. These cannot be executed totally, in view of the limited provisions this year under capital outlay. At a time when the country is facing renewed threats and challenges on its borders and maritime areas of interest, requirements of arming its armed forces with the latest weaponry has never been felt more, hence the meagre provision for the nation’s defence would not suffice.
Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, Arun Jaitley in North Block along with the
Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha before the presentation of General Budget 2016-17