MPs bat for increased defence expenditure

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New Delhi, Apr 22 (UNI) Ruling and Opposition members in the Lok Sabha today made a strong case for stepping up defence spending to develop a matching capability with neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China.

BJP member T P S Rawat pointed out that the defence spending of Pakistan and China was higher as compared to India.

Initiating the discussion on Demands for Grants for Defence, he regretted that India's Defence expenditure as a percentage of the GDP had been dwindling, though the allocation had crossed the Rs 1,00,000 crore mark in 2008-09 budget.

The defence spending was 1.95 per cent of the GDP during 2008-09 as compared to China's 4.3 per cent and Pakistan's 3.5 per cent.

Mr Rawat pointed out delays in actual induction plan of weapons, and sought an integrated approach to overcome this problem.

He asked the government to end ad hocism in defence planning and faulty acquisition plan. ''Defence planning is capability building rather than mere acquisition of weapons.'' Mr Rawat favoured an increase in defence spending to the level of at least 2.5 per cent of the GDP and subsequently upgraded to 3.5 per cent.

Supporting the demand for increasing defence expenditure, Congress member Priyaranjan Chowdhury said it should be at least three per cent of the GDP.

He lauded the government for earmarking Rs 1,05,000 crore for Defence in the current year's budget. ''This is the first time that the defence outlay had exceeded the Rs 1,00,000 mark.'' More UNI SH RR BD1507

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