The federal government on Tuesday proposed a 4.7 per cent increase in the defence budget.
The budget document shows that defence outlay for 2019-20 would be Rs1,152 billion compared to Rs1,100 billion earmarked for the ongoing fiscal year.
However, when compared to the last few years during which defence budget grew by average 11% annually, the current raise is nominal. Also defence spending comes down to 27% from 31% in terms of the total size of the federal budget 2019-20.
According to the budget document 2019-20, out of that Rs1,152 billion, Rs450 billion has been allocated for employees related expenses, Rs264.5 billion for operating expenses, Rs315 billion for local purchases and import of arms and ammunition and Rs123 billion for civil works.
A close look at the budget details reveal that Rs1,152 billion figure do not include Rs327 billion allocated for pensions of retired military personnel and Rs308 billion for the armed forces development program. The armed forces development program indicates 46 per cent or Rs98 billion hike compared to the ongoing fiscal year.
The military would also get Rs65 billion for security expenditure related to temporarily displaced persons in the erstwhile tribal areas and another Rs30 billion for the UN peacekeeping force.
Taking into consideration all these expenditures, the total defence budget for this year in reality is Rs1,882 billion compared to Rs1,694 billion, showing an overall 11 per cent increase.
Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed the decision and said the freeze on defence spending would be for one year.
The army, however, clarified that the voluntary cuts in the defence budget for a year would not be at the cost of defence and security.
Defence spending has always been the subject of discussions with some seeking greater transparency and open debate about the military’s budget.
In recent years, the government provides more details about the defence budget. However, there has never been open debate within the Parliament on the subject.