The objective of asking these question should be to elicit information that generates a well-informed debate on, and facilitates the result-oriented monitoring of, the MoD’s handling of matters related to the defence budget.
While certain changes in the format of the defence Demand for Grants have brought even more complexity to the task of estimating India’s official defence budget, the fact remains that there has only been a meagre increase of 5 per cent which is grossly inadequate to keep the Armed Forces in fighting form.
Budget is not just all about figures but also a statement of policy. The Defence Budget for 2017-18 contains no hint of any intention of the government to bring about a paradigm shift in the defence policy.
If the defence expenditure relationship to the GDP of 1.65 per cent is maintained, we may see a budget estimate (BE) for defence expenditure of Rs. 285,000 crores, against the current year BE of Rs. 249,099 crores.
The presentation of the Union budget on February 1 is expected to ensure full utilisation of allocated funds and will ensure that ‘New Schemes’ can be processed, approved and contracted from April 1, 2017.
With some innovative thinking, on-line arrangements with suppliers, including the Canteen Stores Department, could reduce the cost of storage and distribution and, more importantly, help in maintaining a high satisfaction level among troops.