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January 24, 2014

Army's upgrade plans thwarted as military is forced to make cut-backs

The fund crunch is likely to hit the Army's modernisation plans as the finance ministry has refused Rs 7,870 crore sought by the defence ministry to meet rising fuel expenses and salaries.
The decision has come as a double blow to the armed forces as several key purchases will remain pending and spill over to the next financial year.
Also, the government will soon move into a 'lame duck' mode because of the general elections that are due in May.
The defence ministry has been asked to use the money meant for acquisitions to top up the expenditure budget of over one lakh crore rupees.
The armed forces were allocated Rs 86,740.71 crore for capital expenditure to buy new equipment to build defence capacity.
However, sources said more than 80 per cent of the capital budget has been spent.
With the IAF and the Navy exhausting their spending on new equipment, the Army will be hit hard by a cut-down in capital budget.
Officials said that despite a cut in capital expenses, the Army's ammunition requirement is not compromised.
Adequate funds have been provided to make sure that the Army remains fighting fit. The IAF, which has already spent its entire capital budget for the fifth year running, had sought more money to finalise some small deals.
The overall defence budget this year was more than Rs 2 lakh crore. The finance ministry shot down the proposal for more money in the face of the economic downturn.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his last meeting with top commanders of the armed forces, advised prudence in spending.
The Army was given Rs 13,327.04 crore, the IAF got Rs 37,048.06 crore and the Navy was allocated Rs 23,478 crore.
The big-ticket purchases like the acquisition of 126 French Rafale combat jets for the IAF, construction of a new line of six submarines for the Navy, and the purchase of artillery guns for the Army have been hit by the delay in funds.
The officials, however, said the budget cut will not have an impact on operational preparedness

Daily Mail

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