Senior army officials addressing the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence have complained over lack of adequate monetary provisions for defence in this year’s budget, saying that modernization of the armed forces cannot take place with such paltry funds.
The army contingent, led by Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Sarath Chand, told the Committee that the defence budget of 2018-19 has “dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback.”
The sum of Rs. 2.95 lakh crores allotted towards defence amounts to just 1.58% of India’s GDP, which is the lowest figure since 1962. Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand said allocation of Rs. 21,388 crores out of this amount towards modernization is insufficient to even cater for committed payments of Rs. 29,033 crores under 125 ongoing schemes, emergency procurement and other requirements.
The senior army officer said about 63% of the Army’s allocated budgetary funds get utilized in paying salaries and is left for modernization is just 14%, when that figure should ideally be as high as 25%. He added that while 68% of the army’s equipment is vintage, only 8% of it is state-of-the-art and modern.
The Committee, in response, has expressed shock over state of affairs in reports submitted to the Parliament, claiming that things are dismal because representatives of the Services are being forced to express their displeasure so frankly. Members of this Committee, chaired by BJP’s Major General BC Khanduri, have appealed to the government to look into the military’s demands urgently.