ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has raised its defence spending by around 11% for the coming financial year as it sought to sustain the recent gains against terrorism and to counter external threats, mainly from India.
Interestingly, India also increased its defence budget by around 10% in March, although its size is six times bigger than Pakistan’s total defence outlay.
For year 2016-17, the government allocated Rs860.1 billion compared with Rs775. 8 billion spent by the three armed forces in the outgoing fiscal year, showing an increase of Rs85 billion.
Out of the whole defence budget, Pakistan Army gets 47%, 20% goes to Pakistan Air Force, while Pakistan Navy’s share is around 10%, according to defence ministry officials.
The budget document reveals that out of the Rs860.1 billion, Rs327 billion have been set aside for employees-related expenses, Rs216.1 billion for operating expenses and Rs211.7 billion have been earmarked for physical assets.
However, the figures do not include Rs177.6 billion allocated for pensions of retired military personnel that would be given from the civilian budget and a separate allocation for the security-related expenses.
Additionally, military would also be given Rs192 billion under the contingent liability and Rs100 billion out 170 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).
For the past four years, defence spending has shown an average annual increase of 11%. Military officials defended the increase insisting that Pakistan military’s expanses are lowest in the region given the volatile security environment.
The officials explained that army’s share in the defence budget is around Rs390 billion, which according to him, is less than 8% of the total national budget outlay.
They also claimed that despite the war on terror, Pakistan’s defence budget actually declined in terms of expansion of the national budget.
Since 2001, India’s defence budget has been jacked up from $11.8 billion to $52.2 billion in 2016-17 making it a leading defence spender in the world.
The military officials also argued that last year the maximum budget allocated for the army was spent on non-development expenses such as pay and allowances. Only 6% was left for development schemes.
Giving comparison of various countries on defence spending per soldier/annum, the military officials claimed that Pakistan spends $8,077 per solider annually, while India allocates $17,554, Turkey $31,184, Saudi Arabia $269,060 and the USA spends $426,814 per soldier annually.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2016.