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Defence budget hiked by nearly 11 per cent

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AH-64D Apache Block III. Photo: Boeing

NEW DELHI (PTI): The defence budget was increased on Saturday by 10.95 per cent to Rs 2.46 lakh crore for the next fiscal as compared to the revised estimates of Rs 2.22 lakh crore for 2014-15 as the government focuses on 'Make in India' to curtail over-dependence on imports.

The defence budget accounts for nearly 13.88 per cent of the total central government expenditure for the year 2015-16 which is Rs 1,777,477.04 crore.

While the government had last year alloted Rs 2.29 lakh crore in the budget, it was revised to Rs 2,22,370 crore.

The budget represents a growth of about 7.74 per cent over last year's budget estimates.

However, it is far below what China spends on its defence. China's defence spending was USD 132 billion in 2014-15, a figure that many believe is under reported.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley underlined that defence of "every square inch of our mother land" comes before anything else.

"So far, we have been over dependent on imports, with its attendant unwelcome spin-offs," he said, adding that government has already permitted FDI in defence.

He said this was done so that the Indian-controlled entities also become manufacturers of defence equipments, not "only for us, but for export".

Speaking on the steps taken to boost the defence sector, Jaitley said the government is working towards self- sufficiency through the Make in India programme in defence equipment including aircraft and added that the government has been both transparent and quick in making defence equipment related purchase decisions.

"This year too, I have provided adequately for the needs of the armed forces. As against likely expenditure of this year of Rs 2,22,370 crore the budget allocation for 2015-16 is Rs 2,46,727 crore," he said in his budget address.

He has earmarked Rs 94,588 crore for military modernisation, which works out to 38 per cent of the total defence outlay.

Incidentally, Rs 12,622 crore meant for modernisation last year remained unspent. Of this, Rs 5,992 crore was diverted towards revenue spending.

India is seeking to fast-track its military modernisation and has a number of pending deals ahead like the multi-billion contract for 126 multi-role combat aircraft contract.

The other major acquisitions expected to be finalised include the deals for 22 Apache combat choppers, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and besides new submarines and vessels for the Indian Navy.

In 2010, India overtook China as the world's biggest importer of defence equipment, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Indian Air Force, Army and Navy have placed orders worth Rs 83,858 crore from 2011 to the last fiscal.

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India  Defence  Budget  
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