Def Min brushes aside Army’s concerns over shortage of funds

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Thiruvidanthai: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Wednesday brushed aside the Army’s concerns over severe shortage of funds to procure new equipment and weapons, asserting that there was no reason to worry as adequate financial resources are being made available to the armed forces.
The Army had told a Parliamentary Standing Committee that it was reeling under severe fund crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurements when there was a real possibility of a two-front war and both China as well as Pakistan were carrying out modernisation of their defence forces in “full swing”.
The report of the committee was tabled in Parliament last month.
“The parliamentary standing committee has said lot more. I wish you had read the entire report of the committee. The standing committee report has said so many other things as well,” Sitharaman said when asked about the report during a press conference at the Defence Expo here.
Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Sarath Chand had told the parliamentary panel that inadequate allocation of funds in the defence budget for 2018-19 will hit the Army’s modernisation plan when Chinese military was competing to reach the level of the US.
He said 68 per cent of the Army’s equipment is in the vintage category, adding fund crunch will also impact the serviceability of the existing equipment and may even affect payment of instalments for past purchases.
When asked about the Vice Chief’s comments, Sitharaman did not give a direct reply but said the impression in certain quarters that the Defence Ministry was not doing anything was “wrong”.
“Our focus has been to prioritise what we have. We are ensuring maximum utilisation of funds. Things are happening in defence ministry,” she said.