ISLAMABAD - The government has decided to increase national defence budget for the upcoming financial year 2014-2015 after Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif Saturday met with Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, who termed it a routine meeting and did not reveal level of increase to be made.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif at GHQ (General Headquarter) Rawalpindi and they discussed issues related to development programmes of Pakistan Army and the upcoming defence budget, the official statements issued by finance ministry and ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) stated, without dropping any hint at the expected level of increase in defence budget.
The brief statement of finance ministry however said, “The finance minister acknowledged the need to ensure fulfilment of the requirements of the defence in the light of current security situation. He assured the army chief that defence is of paramount importance to the country and hence necessary resources will be allocated.”
“It was a routine meeting and we have not finalised the defence budget yet, as we are trying to work it out it in next couple of months,” said Minister Senator Dar while talking to The Nation. “How can I inform you about the defence budget in the month of March when annual budget is to be finalised and announced in May or June,” he replied to a question.
Sources informed that military chief has asked to enhance the budget keeping in view the soaring inflation that increased the expenditure of the defence sector. The finance minister said that government would provide every possible financial support to the armed forces so they could carry out their mission of defending the motherland.
Sources were of the view that government might increase the defence budget by 15-20 percent for the next financial year 2014-2015. Defence budget might go around to Rs700 to Rs750 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, against the Rs627 billion of the ongoing year, the said. However, these figures are speculative yet.
The government cut the expenditure of all ministries by 30 percent last year but no reduction was made in the defence budget. The finance ministry is most likely to not cut the defence sector expenditure for next financial year as well and increase the overall volume of defence budget instead.