Business Standard

Defence allocation at ~6.21 trillion, but stays below 2% of GDP


In the interim Union Budget presented in Parliament on Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, herself a former defence minister, allocated just over ~6.21 trillion to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

That is a 4.72 per cent rise over the defence allocation in the current year’s budget, i.e. for financial year 2023-24 (FY 24). However, compared to the revised allocation for the current year, it was a marginal fall in allocation. As a percentage of government expenditur­e, Sitharaman allocated just 13 per cent to defence, continuing a multiyear trend of falling allocation­s.

Even so, the MOD continues to receive the highest allocation among the ministries. A major share of 14.82 per cent goes on revenue expenditur­e (on sustenance and operationa­l preparedne­ss), 30.68 per cent goes on salaries and allowances, 22.72 per cent on defence pensions and 4.11 per cent on civil organisati­ons under the MOD.

As a percentage of gross domestic product, this year’s defence allocation remained firmly below the 2 per cent level. Under the capital allocation head, which caters for modernisat­ion of the country’s arsenal, defence was allocated ~1.72 trillion — or 27.67 per cent of the total defence budget. Most modern militaries spend about 5060 per cent of their total defence budget on the capital account, to ensure they go into combat with superior weaponry and equipment.

However, India’s military — and especially the army — continues with a personnel-heavy structure that sucks up more than half the defence allocation­s into payment of salaries and pensions.

A major cause for the inadequate capital expenditur­e that the military makes do with is because, at the national level, there is inadequate expenditur­e on the capital account.

The finance minister announced during her Budget speech that the government would spend a total of ~11.11 trillion under the capital head. Given that, the DRDO’S R&D spend of ~13,208 crore has been criticised as inadequate.

Amongst other heads, ~6,500 crore have been earmarked to build border infrastruc­ture; ~7,652 crore have been allocated to the Coast Guard, which is emerging as a service in its own right. A corpus of ~1 trillion has been catered for long term loans to youth companies that are working on deep technologi­es.

In veterans’ affairs, the allocation to the Ex-servicemen­s’ Welfare Scheme for FY 202425 is 28 per cent higher than the allocation for FY 23-24, having been raised from ~5,431 crore to ~6,968 crore. This is in addition to the allocation being raised at the revised estimates stage during the current year, where the budgetary allocation to ECHS was enhanced by 70 per cent. On the increase of capital expenditur­e outlay, Rajnath Singh described it as a massive push, which will provide a big boost to making India a five trillion dollar economy by 2027.

As a percentage of government expenditur­e, the budget allocated to defence is 13 per cent, continuing a multi-year trend of falling allocation­s

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India