On top of the Rs495 billion officially-sanctioned defence budget, the government has allocated an additional Rs150 billion for the armed forces, almost half of which was billed under the Armed Forces Development Programme.
A senior official of the finance ministry, citing the ‘Budget-in-Brief’ document, said the total defence and security allocation comes to around Rs645 billion, which is almost 23.8 per cent of the total budget. In addition, Rs73.2 billion would be paid from civilian accounts on army pensions – a practice initiated by Musharraf in 2000. By adding the three allocations – stated budget, contingent liabilities and army pensions – the total allocations total Rs718 billion, almost 26 per cent of the total budget.
The amount has been reflected in the budget under the allocations of “grants” with heading of “contingent liabilities”. The Rs150 billion allocation is Rs8.4 billion or almost 6 per cent more than the contingent liabilities of the outgoing fiscal year.
In the outgoing fiscal year, the government allocated Rs110 billion for contingent liabilities, but ended up spending Rs141.7 billion, the budget documents showed. The stated defence budget was Rs444 billion. With that total defence and security-related spending in the outgoing fiscal year remained at Rs586 billion, which is almost 23 per cent of the outgoing fiscal year’s federal budget. By adding pension-related expenses of Rs71.9 billion in the outgoing fiscal year the total spending would come to Rs658 billion or 25.6 per cent of the total budget.
The PML-N had called for debating the defence budget in parliament after the Abbottabad incursion and a terrorist attack on a navy base in Karachi. Independent defence analysts have also demanded to link the defence allocations with performance.
According to the official, out of Rs150 billion, an amount of Rs80 billion has been given under 10-year Armed Forces Development Programme. The defence secretary, during a recent briefing to the National Assembly standing committee on finance, had demanded $1.5 billion or Rs128 billion for the Armed Forces Development Programme. An amount of Rs50 billion would be given to the military on account of the Coalition Support Fund disbursements by the United States. The remaining Rs20 billion would be given on account of services charges paid by the United Nations to Pakistan against army’s contribution in the UN peacekeeping missions, the official added.
Of the defence budget allocations, Rs206.5 billion are employees-related expenses, Rs128.3 billion operating expensed of the armed forces, Rs117.6 billion for building physical assets and Rs42.7 billion for civil works.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2011.