Budget 2020: Modernisation of the armed forces in Defence Budget to be hit, say experts

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New Delhi | February 1, 2020 6:42 PM

Union Budget 2020 India: The armed forces have several modernization programmes which need to be implemented on an urgent basis and these include artillery guns, helicopters, fighter aircraft, submarines, drones, amongst others.

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Budget 2020 India: Lack of adequate funds for the armed forces could hit their modernization programmes, say experts. The government has allocated Rs 3.37 lakh crore as the defence budget for 2020-21, which is a mere hike of 5.8 per cent over the allocation for 2019-20. This is expected to hit the big-ticket projects in the pipeline which have been initiated to counter the increasing threats from Pakistan and China.

Expert Views

Sharing his views, Lt Gen AB Shivane (retd), former Director-General Mechanised Forces, says “The defence budget has been a damper, as the curtain-raiser to the Def Expo 2020. The Union Budget 2020 is critical as it serves as a platform for the nation’s march towards a $5 trillion economy which demands an equally matching defence capability based on strategic autonomy.”

“Considering that huge capability voids need to be filled, in the first glance, the allocation under the capital head seems to be not enough,” says Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.

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The armed forces have several modernization programmes which need to be implemented on an urgent basis and these include artillery guns, helicopters, fighter aircraft, submarines, drones, amongst others.

According to a senior officer who wished to remain anonymous, “The armed forces had hoped for a healthy hike in the allocation. Since that has not happened there will be more pressure on the forces to prioritise their procurement programmes. Excluding pensions, allocation announced is a mere 1.5% of the country’s gross domestic product.”

However, if the pensions for the defence personnel are added then the budget outlay for 2020-21 stands at Rs 4.71 lakh crore compared to Rs 4.3 lakh crore in last year’s budget estimates and Rs 4.48 lakh crore in last year’s revised estimates.

Finance Commission Suggestion

The 15th Finance Commission has decided to set up an expert group to examine proposals made by the MoD.

MoD has proposed a special cess to raise more funds.

It has recommended setting up of a non-lapsable fund.

The MoD tells the Finance Commission that the current funds are inadequate for large capital purchases.

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Acquisition Programmes to get affected

The programmes of all the three services –army, navy air force will get hit.

The Indian Army is already getting artillery systems including the BAE Systems’ M777 ultra-light Howitzers, the K-9 Vajra self-propelled gun and the made in India Dhanush.

The Navy had already expressed its concern and sought more funds from the government. And the low allocation has forced it to plans for the 200 warships by 2027.

It has cut down on the number of Mine Counter Measure Vessels and the helicopters.

The IAF has been facing an acute budget crunch and has been forced to go slow on several acquisition plans.

A few programmes including the 114 fighter aircraft, transport aircraft which are meant to replace the Avros have all be delayed due to lack of funds.

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