Bleak economic scenario will lead to a cut in India’s military expenditure in the forthcoming budget for the year 2013-14, defence minister AK Antony said on Wednesday. In December last year, the Union finance ministry cut down the defence budget.
Armed forces are facing huge financial crunch for the second consecutive year after the finance ministry rejected the defence minsitry’s demand for an additional outlay of Rs 45,000 crore for 2012-13. And to add to the miseries, in December 2012, the finance ministry decided to reduce Rs 10,000 crore from the revised estimated budget.
Consequently, the defence minister has asked his three service chiefs to prioritise their requirements in view of the imminent cut in next budget. “We are in the process of prioritising military purchases. All three service chiefs will have to take a call on what is critical for operational preparedness. In the volatile neighbourhood conditions, we really need more money for modernisation, but we are not insulated from the global recession,” Antony said while speaking at the inauguration of AeroIndia 2013.
However, he made it clear that operational readiness of the armed forces is not going to suffer due to monetary constraint. “I can assure you that priority areas like operational readiness will not suffer. And modernization will not be slackened,”he said.
While talking about the proposal to set up an additional mountain strike corps to counter China’s aggression, the defence minister said the proposal has been sent to the finance ministry for further clearance.
Meanwhile, the defence minister expressed concern over Pakistan handing over the Gwadar port to China. “China is constructing the port on Pakistan’s request. It is a matter of concern and this is my very straight-forward reaction,” he said. Last month, Pakistan cabinet decided to transfer management of Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea from a Singapore company to China Overseas Port Holding Limited.
However, in contrast to the Chinese aggression, the defence minister has welcomed the Chinese presence in Aero India 2013 for the first time as a sign of improving relation relations between Asia’s two biggest countries.