Antony to Officials:'Don't Forget the Soldiers After They Retire'

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (UNI) Defence Minister AK Antony today called upon the bureaucrafts to adopt a humane approach to the needs of the ex-servicemen and deal with them with ''all sensivity and seriousness''.

Inaugurating the Financial Controllers' Conference here, Minister Antony said the mechanics of financial management and prudence should not be allowed to overshadow the human side of the work.

''Defence officials should adopt a humane approach towards the requirements of ex-servicemen to highlight the fact that while the country acknowledges the sacrifices being made by the jawans when they are in active service, it does not forget them after their retirement,'' he advised.

The Government, he said, attached great importance to the welfare of ex-servicemen and the creation of an Ex-servicemen's Welfare Department in the Ministry of Defence headed by its own Secretary was an indication of the significance being attached to this area.

The Defence Minister asked the financial managers to upgrade their procedures and techniques by drawing upon the best practices followed the world over in the fields of audit, project management, logistics and budgeting.

''The Department needs to keep abreast of the changing national and global security scenario and new developments in defence technology so that it can make meaningful contributions to our acquisition process....'' The latest delegation and enhancement of financial powers was expected to result in 46 per cent of the overall revenue procurement and 35 per cent of capital procurement budget being spent under the delegated powers by the Services Headquarters, he observed.

In this context, the Defence Minister asked the financial managers and the Services ''to sit together and work out practical solutions'' so that budgetary allocations were fully utilised conforming to established procedures and the principles of financial prudence.

Minister Antony pointed out that Defence expenditure had grown considerably over the years and today it constituted the largest single head of expenditure in the country's budget after interest payments. ''The share of capital allocations in the defence budget has increased significantly from around 25 per cent in 2000-01 to over 40 per cent today....'' Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Financial Advisor (Defence Services) Neil Kamal Narang and Controller General of Defence Accounts HK Pannu, among others, also spoke on the occasion.

The three-day conference will be deliberating upon a number of critical issues relating to defence expenditure.

UNI DG VD HS1458

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