Parliament Standing Committee has said in its report that the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy does not have enough funds to buy new weapons systems required to fight a 10 day intense war, pay for liabilities already committed to or meet its recurring expenditures.
Deposing before the committee of the Parliament, the Vice Chief of Army Staff Sarath Chand has said, “Funds allocated is insufficient and the army is finding it difficult to even stock arms, ammunition, spares for 10 day intensive war. All the three services are expected to be prepared for at least 10 days of intense battle.”
General Chand has told the committee that allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient. Paying for liabilities carried over the previous year 2017 will hardly leave any funds for new schemes (acquisition of new weapon systems) in 2018-19.
Recently, to cut the red-tape and speed-up the process of acquisition the government has allowed the Vice-Chief of Army Staff make emergency purchases of Rs 14,000 crore.
Shockingly, the committee found that no separate allocation was made in this regard. The money has to be allocated from within the Army’s Budget, thereby leaving no choice but to re-prioritize expending the budgetary resources by way of going slow on some planned acquisitions, reducing the spending etc.
The committee has found that little has been achieved to protect military installations and bases that are increasingly under attack from Pakistan based terrorist.
The committee has said that government needs to move beyond inquiries and policy announcements and make tangible progress.
“The Committee cannot help expressing unhappiness with the state of affairs in the Ministry with regard to existing scenario of ‘perimeter security’ of defence establishments and installations, including offshore establishments. The Sunjuwan attack underscores the need for speedy measures,” the committee said.
The shortfall of funds for army alone has shortfall is staggering Rs 42,512.14 crore.
“Keeping in view the increasing threat perception, which includes various occurrences of external strife and internal dissidence such as Doklam, increased external activities in Tibet over a year, rampant cross border firing, militant activities etc the current budget is not supportive to the inevitable needs of the Army,” the committee observed.
Similarly the Navy has been allocated only 70 per cent of the funds that it had asked for. Against a projected need of of Rs 11,320.39 crore, the allocation has only been to the extent of Rs 7,985.06 crore.
The Committee observed that the allocation amounts to an increase of only Rs 220 crore over Revised Estimate of 2017-18, which works out to a rise of only 2.84 per cent.
The committee after consulting the Indian Navy has said that the increase would not even cater to the inflationary pressure. Matters such as maintaining the requisite armament level as well as emergency procurements would indeed require more funds.
Interestingly, the Committee has found that the Budget has also not factored in the impact that GST will have on the naval expenditure.
The Parliamentary committee has said the Indian Navy has been given only Rs 20,003.71 crore for modernization and new weapon platforms whereas the Navy wanted at least of Rs 33,458.38 crore for the capital segment, the allocation made has been Rs 20,003.71 crore. And, shockingly, it is Rs 5000 crore short when it comes to paying for committed liabilities-liabilities that have incurred in previous years to be paid in the current financial year.
This amounts to a huge shortfall of almost 40 per cent of the budget projected as required and “will indeed have a cascading impact on the operational preparedness and technological upgradation of the Navy”
AIR FORCE ::
The government has provided for either GST or export duties that are now levied on the equipment bought from abroad. There would be an additional burden of taxes due to the new taxation laws.
On this count, the Committee have gathered that in 2016-17 the customs duty paid was to the tune of Rs 943.62 crore, which has since hiked up to Rs 1,614.28 crore in 2017-18.
“This amount has not been reimbursed to the Air Force during the year,” the committee has observed.
Like the other two services that IAF too is severely cash strapped. The committee has found that IAF is short by at at least Rs 6,400 crore when it comes budgeted revenue expenditure.
While the IAF had asked for Rs 1,14,526 crore only Rs 65,891 crore have been allocated. In a scathing remark the committee says the budget does not reflect the intent of achieving even the strategic objectives.