Defence share in total govt spending lowest in 5 years

The Ministry of Defence, including the armed forces, has been allocated Rs 5.38 lakh crore in this year’s Budget, nearly one-fourth less than its projected demand of more than Rs 7 lakh crore.

According to figures shared by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt in Rajya Sabha Monday, this year’s budgeted spending on defence, as a share of the government’s total expenditure, will also be the lowest in five years.

Answering questions in the Upper House, Bhatt said in the Budget Estimates for this year the Defence Ministry had projected Rs 4.87 lakh crore for Defence Services Estimates, of which Rs 3.85 lakh crore has been allocated.

Similarly, the ministry had projected Rs 2.15 lakh crore for capital outlay – to acquire new weapons and modernise the forces. Against the demand, Bhatt said, allocation of Rs 1.52 lakh crore has been received.

?️ Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access the best Election reporting and analysis ?️

The difference in what the Defence Ministry had asked for and what has been allocated to it is Rs 1.64 lakh crore – nearly a quarter.

Bhatt replied in the affirmative when Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi asked him if the “Finance Commission’s report indicated that the gap in the Defence Budget between the estimated requirement and allocation could be around Rs 2.81 lakh crore” in this financial year. But he said the figure was based on the Defence Plan Projections made in the past.

“… funds are allocated to services depending upon outstanding Committed Liabilities, expenditure trend and likely outgo on new schemes,” Bhatt said, adding additional funds, if needed, are sought at the supplementary or the revised estimates stage.

“It is ensured that urgent and critical capabilities are acquired without any compromise to operational preparedness of the Defence Services,” he said.

Figures shared by Bhatt in response to a question by senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, showed a decline in defence expenditure as a share of the Central Government Expenditure (CGE), since 2017-18.

Since 2017-18, when it was 17.73 per cent of CGE, the defence expenditure in the budget estimates for this financial year has fallen to 13.31 per cent of CGE.

Although the decline has been steady, the sharpest slide was between 2019-20 and 2020-21, when the share of defence expenditure in CGE dropped from 16.86 per cent to 13.84 per cent.

In absolute terms, however, the defence expenditure has gone up. In 2017-2018, it was Rs 3.79 lakh crore, jumping to Rs 5.02 lakh crore in 2021-22, and now to Rs 5.25 lakh crore this fiscal.

The data, Bhatt said, reflects that while in percentage terms the defence expenditure as a share of CGE has fluctuated, “there has, however, been consistent increase in defence expenditure in absolute terms year after year.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button