ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday increased its spending on defence by around 9.5 per cent for the coming fiscal year, as it sought to consolidate gains in the anti-terror fight and counter external threats – mainly from India.
For FY2017-18, the government allocated Rs920.1 billion compared with Rs841.4 billion spent by the armed forces during the outgoing fiscal year, showing an increase of Rs79 billion.
Out of the whole defence budget, Pakistan Army gets 47 per cent, 20 per cent goes to Pakistan Air Force and the Navy’s share is around 10 per cent, said defence ministry officials.
According to the budget document 2017-18, of the total Rs920.1 billion, Rs322.1 billion have been allocated for employees-related expenses, Rs225.5 billion for operating expenses and Rs244 billion for local purchases and import of arms and ammunition.
However, the amount does not include Rs180 billion allocated for pensions of the military personnel that would be given from the civilian budget and a separate allocation for security-related expenses.
In addition, the military would also be given Rs180 billion under the contingent liability and Rs86 billion out of Rs144 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).
For the past five years, the country’s defence spending has shown an average increase of 11 per cent annually.
Defence spending has always been the subject of discussions with some, seeking greater transparency and open debate about the military’s budget.
Unlike previous years, the government now provides more details about the defence budget. However, there has never been an open debate within parliament on the subject.
Military officials defended the increase, insisting that the military’s expenses are lowest in the region given the volatile security environment.
The official explained that the army’s share is less than 8 per cent of the total national budget outlay. He also claimed that despite the war on terror, Pakistan’s defence budget actually declined in terms of expansion of the national budget.
A source said since 2001, India’s defence budget increased from $11.8 billion to $40.3 billion in 2017-18, making it one of the leading defence spenders in the world.
Giving a comparison of various countries on defence spending per soldier per annum, the source said: “Pakistan spends $8,077 per soldier annually while India allocates $17,554, Turkey ($31,184), Saudi Arabia ($269,060) and the US spends $426,814 per soldier annually.
India, earlier this year, had increased its defence budget by over 6 per cent, although its size is six times bigger than Pakistan’s total defence outlay.