Finance Minister P Chidambaram today parried a question on Rs10,000 crore cut in defence expenditure even as Defence Minister AK Antony said the operational preparedness of armed forces will not be affected by any reduction.
"So the Rs10,000 crore which is reportedly being cut, ... you will know what is being cut only when the Budget is presented.
"If it is cut for this year it is cut, you cannot do anything about it. That money you cannot have. Can it be provided next year? We can, provided we can grow at a higher rate and we have more money," he said while delivering the K Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture here today.
Chidambaram also pointed out that a cut in defence expenditure or on police forces "will severely compromise our defence and security preparedness and diminish our capacity to meet the challenges to national security".
Meanwhile in Bangalore, Antony said there will not be any cut in priority areas and operational preparedness of the defence forces.
"Regarding modernisation of armed forces, there is no question of any slackening. We are conscious of the geopolitical situation around us, and the emerging threat and the volatile situation we are in where national security is primary importance", Antony said.
Chidambaram said the key to greater public welfare and greater security is more growth, which increases the capacity of the government to fund essential services.
"It is therefore a self-evident truth that growth is the key for greater public welfare and greater security. Yet, we adopt a disdainful attitude to growth," he said.
Growth, Chidambaram said, is necessary to promote social welfare, provide education and health services and create more jobs.
He said the country must have the money to provide the money. "If we do not have the money we cannot borrow and provide the money.
"Borrowing is not an option for India. We can borrow within limits and its now widely acknowledged that the limit which a country can borrow is no more than 3 per cent of GDP," he said.