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Parliament panel raps govt for inadequate allocation of funds to defence forces

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel today came down hard on the Modi government for inadequate allocation of funds for the armed forces in the defence budget, saying the country cannot afford complacency in dealing with security challenges, particularly when there was a possibility of a two-front war.

In its report to Lok Sabha, the committee on estimates also referred to allocation of 1.56 per cent of the GDP to the three services in the defence budget, noting that it was lowest since India and China fought a war in 1962.

The latest report came nearly four months after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had slammed the government for insufficient allocation of funds to the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

“In the current geo-political scenario, a country of the size of India cannot afford complacency when it is a question of defence preparedness,” the committee headed by former Union minister and senior BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi said.

The report also talked about the need for the country’s preparedness for a potential two-front war with Pakistan and China while strengthening India’s influence in the Indian Ocean. The committee criticised the government’s “abysmally low” capital expenditure as a percentage of total defence services allocation. The capital expenditure accounts for procurement of weapons, military platforms and equipment.

“… Any decrease in capital expenditure has an adverse impact on modernisation process of our forces and tantamount to compromising safety and security of our country,” it said.

It also said that there was an urgent need to replace the “obsolete armaments” with state of the art weapon systems for which substantial increase in capital budget is essential.

In the Union budget, the government had allocated Rs 2.95 lakh crore to defence forces which is estimated to be around 1.56 per cent of the country’s GDP. The armed forces were known to be unhappy with the allocation.

The Army had told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that it was was reeling under severe financial crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurement when China and Pakistan were carrying out modernisation of their defence forces in “full swing”.

In its report, the Committee on Estimates also underlined the need for having synergy between the services and the defence public sector undertakings, saying it is absolutely important for defence preparedness of the country.

It also asked the defence ministry to take steps to cut delays in procurement process of weapons and military hardware.

The panel recommended that the ministry may take appropriate steps to constitute an integrated institutional mechanism consisting of all key stakeholders in order to reduce delays in procurement process.

Coming down hard on Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for delays in various projects, it also said the premier institute needs to work with “clearly defined” objectives to develop weapons and platforms.

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