Procurement of military equipment to be expedited

Jaitley assures more funds to armed forces

Procurement of military equipment to be expedited

In a bid to ensure that there is no shortage of military equipment, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the government will work towards “expediting” the procurement process as the “slow pace” of acquisition of weapon systems remains a matter of concern.

Jaitley, who spoke to the press after attending the Naval Commanders’ Conference here, also hinted at giving more funds to the armed forces in the budget.

“The key concern appears to be the slow pace of acquisition of equipment. The Navy has highlighted that. Hope of the forces is that their requirements should be fulfilled and the process should be expedited. The effort of the government would be to work in that direction,” Jaitley said, adding there are several decisions in the pipeline.

There has been criticism over the slow pace in the acquisition process, including the Rs 6,000 crore 16 multi-role helicopter project and the acquisition of torpedoes for the Scorpene submarines.

Asked whether the government will do a full review of the defence acquisition process to expedite procurements, he said, “I would not use the word full review but even under the present procedures, expediting processes is still possible. Every file need not move up and down indefinite number of times.”

On whether the armed forces can expect an increase in allocation, he said, “You have to wait till July 10 (when the General Budget will be tabled in Parliament).”

“Let us not get into percentages and look at the absolute quantum. As the base of the economy expands, even a lesser percentage may increase the amount.

Whatever amounts are necessary, our endeavour in due course is to make them available,” he said when asked if the defence allocation would be 2.5 to 3 per cent of the GDP.

In the interim budget presented in February, the UPA government had allocated Rs 2.24 lakh crore for the defence sector while armed forces have been demanding a hike of over 20 per cent for their modernisation in the General Budget.

Jaitley also said the government would take a “considered decision” on the deal for procuring 126 combat aircraft, which has been under negotiations for the last two years.

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