India to cut down on defence spending.
Defence minister AK Antony said on Wednesday that the military budget for the financial year 2013-14 will see a cut, both in capital and revenue budgets. Antony was speaking at the launch of Aero India 2013. The minister attributed the spending cut to global recession, especially in the developed nations. He said the outlays for all departments will be affected.(Aldrich)
However, expenditure in ‘priority areas’ will not be reduced, he said, adding that these areas will be chosen by the armed forces without interference from the ministry.
“There will be no cut in the operational preparedness of the armed forces,” Antony said at a press conference, flanked by MoS for defence Jitendra Singh, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and other delegates. The minister also said the HAL Intermediate Jet Trainer, Sitara, will be manufactured by 2015 and will participate at the next edition of the air show in Bangalore.
HAL, which is manufacturing Sitara, is facing criticism for lack of significant progress from all quarters of the government and the armed forces including Air Marshal NAK Browne and the media. “Currently, HAL, DRDO and the IAF are cooperating fully to make IJT a reality by 2015,” Antony added.
The defence minster also said that China’s role in building Pakistan’s Gwadar port was a “matter of concern”. The Indian government was making serious efforts to improve relations with China, he added. “China is modernizing its areas bordering India. The government is similarly strengthening the borders India shares with China,” he added. The minister said there is a delay in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft programme due to budget cuts.
“We want to clinch the contract at the earliest though we have to make sure there’s no malpractice at any stage of procurement,” he added. On reports of the Ultra Light Helicopter Project being scrapped, Antony said the stakeholders of the project – Army, Navy, Air Force, MoD and others – are collectively taking a decision in this regard.