The defence budget was on Wednesday increased to Rs 5.94 lakh crore for 2023-24, in a modest hike of 13 per cent from last year's allocation of Rs 5.25 lakh crore, amid India's continuing border row with China in eastern Ladakh and concerns over rising Chinese forays into the Indian Ocean Region.
In the Union Budget presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, a total of Rs 1,62,600 crore was set aside to the military for capital expenditure that largely includes purchasing new weapons, aircraft, warships and other military hardware.
For 2022-23, the budgetary allocation for capital outlay was Rs 1.52 lakh crore but the revised estimate showed the expenditure at Rs 1.50 lakh crore.
The capital allocations of Rs 1,62,600 crore marked a hike of Rs 10,230 crore over last year's outlay and it is a 6.7 per cent increase. The capital budget of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been increased to Rs 5,000 crore as against Rs 3,500 crore in 2022-23 which is a hike of 43 per cent.
"The Union Budget for the financial Year 2023-24 envisages a total outlay of Rs. 45,03,097 crore. Of this, ministry of defence has been allocated a total Budget of Rs 5,93,537.64 crore, which is 13.18 per cent of the total GoI Budget," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.
The total revenue expenditure has been pegged at Rs 4,22,162 crore that included Rs 1,38,205 crore for defence pensions, Rs 2,70,120 crore for defence services and Rs 13,837 crore for the ministry of defence (civil).
The capital outlay for the Indian Air Force was the highest at Rs 57,137.09 crore that included Rs 15,721 crore for procurement of aircraft and aero engines and Rs 36,223.13 crore for other equipment.
An amount of Rs 52,804 crore was set aside as the capital outlay for the Indian Navy as against Rs 47,590 crore given to the force in 2022-23.
The capital outlay for the Army has been pegged at Rs 37,241 crore which included Rs 5,500 crore for procurement of aircraft and aero-engines and Rs 21,300 for other equipment. The capital allocation to the force in last year's budget was Rs 32,015 crore.
Dr Laxman Kumar Behera, associate professor at Special Centre for National Security Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the increase in the allocation has been satisfactory considering the economic headwinds in view of impact of various global developments.
"The budget has given the armed forces a modest hike. The capital outlay for the Indian Navy has been on an upswing for the last few years because of China's increasing presence in the Indian Ocean Region. This is a significant aspect in the defence budget for 2023-24 as well," Behera told PTI.
Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen (retd) Subrata Saha said the budget intends to boost manufacturing and build on India's strength in the digital domain.
"In defence, domestic manufacturing will get further impetus with efforts to also increase exports from India," he said.
Saha said the increase in the allocation for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) will push the border connectivity infrastructure.
The defence ministry said the increase in the capital budget since 2019-20 has been Rs 59,200 crore which it said is a 57 percent increase.
"This increase is a reflection of the government's commitment towards sustainable augmentation in the area of modernisation and infrastructure development of the defence services," it said.
The allocation to Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has been put at Rs 23,264 crore.
According to the budget documents, an allocation of Rs 2,70,120 crore has been made to the armed forces for revenue expenditure that includes expenses on payment of salaries and maintenance of establishments. The budgetary allocation of revenue expenditure in 2022-23 was Rs 2,33,000 crore.
In the budget for 2023-24, the capital outlay for the ministry of defence (civil) has been pegged at Rs 8774 crore. The total capital outlay considering Rs 1,62,600 crore for the armed forces and Rs 8,774 crore to defence ministry comes to Rs 1,71,374 crore.
The revenue expenditure for the Army has been put at Rs 1,82,649 crore followed by Rs 44,345 crore for the IAF and Rs 32,284 crore for the Indian Navy.
Under the revenue outlay, the Indian Navy has been allocated an amount of Rs 32,284.20 crore as against a budgetary allocation of Rs 25,406.42 crore and revised estimate of Rs 30,734.58 crore for 2022-23.
The revenue expenditure of the Indian Air Force has been projected at Rs 44,345.58 crore as against budgetary outlay of Rs 32,873.46 crore and revised estimate of Rs 44,728.10 crore for 2022-23.
The gross budgetary support under the central sector head was put at Rs 950 crore.