Manohar Parrikar allays fears of small defence outlay, says he is a tough bargainer


Statistics can give conflicting picture, said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday allaying apprehensions that spending on the modernisation of armed forces had shrunk.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget omitted any reference to defence and the numbers mentioned in the accompanying documents reflected only a marginal hike.
Instructed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “explain” the budget provisions to the people, Parrikar clarified that figures conceal the real picture.
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In broad terms, the defence budget for 2016-17 stood at Rs 3.41 lakh crore which is 17.23 per cent of the overall expenditure.
The defence pension will consume Rs 82,000 crore and Rs 78,000 crore has been kept for acquisitions to augment the fighting capacity of the forces. After paying the committed liabilities for the contracts signed earlier, Rs 12,000 crore will be left for the new deals in the offing.
Parrikar said that adequate funds are available for new contracts including the much anticipated purchase of 36 French Rafale fighter jets negotiations for which were underway.
The acquisition funds for last year could not be exhausted and the minister attributed this to an ingenious way evolved by the ministry to make use of available money.
The NDA government has finalised purchases worth Rs 1.20 lakh crore ever since it came to power and around one lakh crore is in the pipeline.
Several measures have been taken to rationalise expenses. On asked if the government has any alternative plan in mind if the purchase of French Rafale fighter jets did not fructify, the minister said the government will take a call once that stage reaches. Parrikar said he was a tough bargainer and would save the money for the country.