No shortage of funds in armed forces: Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that though the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had left the arsenals of the army, navy and the air force short of ammunition, no such shortage exists now.

She told journalists that the BJP government had made an adequate allocations for the defence sector since it assumed office in May 2014.

“When we came in, there was ammunition shortage, there is no doubt about it. People who are accusing us today should also say where the shortage came from,” Nirmala said. She was countering the Opposition Congress' allegation that the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not been serious enough in providing the armed forces with adequate weapons and ammunition to deal with any external security threat.

“Now I am telling you there is no shortage (of ammunition),” the defence minister said.

The Modi government drew flak after a report by the comptroller and auditor general last year indicated a shortage in ammunition in the arsenal of the army.

A report by the Standing Committee on Defence tabled in Parliament in March had criticised the government for inadequate allocations for the armed forces.

The defence minister, however, on Tuesday cited Budget allocation statistics to drive home the point that the BJP-led government had ensured in the past four years that the inadequate funds did not adversely affect the preparedness of the armed forces.

She said that the capital outlay for defence services in 2013-14 (the last financial year when UPA was in power) had been Rs 86,740 crore, while the actual expenditure had been Rs 79,125 crore.

She added that the capital outlay for defence services had been Rs 94,587 crore in 2014-15 (the first year of the Modi Government) while the actual expenditure had been Rs 81,886 crore.

The capital outlays in 2015-16 and 2016-17 were Rs 94,588 crore and Rs 86,340, respectively, while the expenditures were Rs 79,958 crore and Rs 86,370 crore.

“As per the figures, beginning from 2004 till today, the defence expenditure has never been higher than this. Figures also show very clearly how different and how much more defence expenditure has been there in the last four years,” she said. “I want to dispel the myth that the funds which have been given are lesser than ever before”.

She said that the headquarters of the army, navy and the air force had been given sufficient funds and provision to make some capital purchases.

The defence minister said the armed forces needed to review the list of military hardware they wanted to procure as some of the equipment they once wanted to procure might have been rendered obsolete due to the advent of new technology.

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No shortage of funds in armed forces: Sitharaman

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