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Ministry seeks increase in defence budget

Updated May 20, 2014

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Senate Defence Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed speaks during the launch Media Manual on Defence Budget at PIPS. — Photo by INP
Senate Defence Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed speaks during the launch Media Manual on Defence Budget at PIPS. — Photo by INP

ISLAMABAD: The defence ministry has called for an increase in allocation for armed forces in the next budget on the ground that the current share is not enough.

“More funds are required for acquisition and mobilisation of new weapon systems,” the additional secretary of the ministry, Air Vice Marshal Arshad Qudoos, told a media briefing on defence budget arranged by the Senate Committee on Defence on Monday.

He said the amount provided in last year’s budget covered only the expenses incurred on salaries of troops and operational and maintenance costs.

Based on allocation for the outgoing fiscal year, the additional secretary said about 43 per cent of the defence budget had been spent on employees-related expenses, 26 per cent on operations and 10 per cent on civil works.

The remaining 21 per cent went to servicing and maintenance of equipment.

The budget for next fiscal year will be announced in the first week of next month. It is expected that the government will increase the allocation to meet the growing defence requirements.

Air Vice Marshal Qudoos compared Pakistan’s defence spending with other countries in the region, particularly India, and said that Pakistan was spending much less than others.

The country’s defence budget last year was $6.27 billion whereas India was spending about $37bn on its armed forces, he said.

He said Pakistan spent $8,427 on a soldier every year whereas India spent $24,075.

The additional secretary said changes in foreign exchange rate and rising inflation and petroleum prices over the year had decreased the actual value of the allocation.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Mushahid Hussain, called for “openness” in defence spending. “People deserve to know how the defence budget is prepared and utilised.”

“There are no holy cows,” said Mr Mushahid, whose committee had hosted the first ever briefing on defence budget for the media.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said the defence budget was prepared on the basis of GHQ’s threat and national security perception to the exclusion of civil society.

He alleged that the budget lacked both transparency and accountability.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2014