Pakistan has increased its defence spending by 15% for the coming fiscal year, as the military remains engaged in fighting a deadly Taliban insurgency in the strife-torn tribal regions.
The defence budget has been jacked up to Rs627.2 billion for the financial year beginning July 1, compared to Rs545.3 billion allocated in the outgoing fiscal year, showing an increase of Rs82 billion.
However, against the original allocation of Rs545.3 billion, the military overspent Rs25 billion, raising the total expenditure to Rs570 billion in 2012-13.
According to the budget document, the lion’s share went to the army which got Rs301.54 billion, followed by the air force with Rs131.18 billion and the navy with Rs62.80 billion.
Of the total Rs627.2 billion, Rs271.2 billion have been allocated for employees-related expenses, Rs162.2 billion for operating expenses and Rs131.3 billion for physical assets.
However, the figures do not include over Rs132.7 billion allocated for pensions of the retired military personnel that would be paid from the civilian budget and a separate allocation for the security-related expenses, a move which critics say seeks to conceal the actual defence spending.
In addition to this, the military will also be given Rs150 billion under the contingent liability, Rs70 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and Rs35 billion has been allocated for the military’s services to the UN peacekeeping missions in the coming fiscal year. This means a whopping Rs1,014 billion have been allocated for the military, which is about 28.2% of the country’s total budget.
The defence budget – which has never been properly debated in Parliament – has remained a sensitive and controversial subject in Pakistan and there have been calls for greater scrutiny of the spending.
Pakistan raises its defence spending every year because of its historically uneasy relations with arch-rival India. India earlier this year boosted military spending by 21% to $42.7 billion for the coming year as it seeks to counter China’s rapid military build-up and its traditional rival Pakistan as well.
Defence analysts believe that given the internal security challenges much of the increase in the defence budget by Pakistan is likely to be spent on the fight against militancy.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2013.