Pak`s annual defence spending at Rs 495bn

Pakistan hiked its defence budget by nearly 12 per cent to Rs 495 billion for fiscal 2011-12.

Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday hiked its defence budget by nearly 12 per cent to Rs 495 billion (about USD 5.75 billion) for fiscal 2011-12.

Official budget documents presented in parliament said defence spending will increase to Rs 495 billion for 2011-12, compared with Rs 442 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30.

Further details were not immediately available. Reports had said that the military and the defence ministry had sought an outlay of more than Rs 500 billion but the figure was slashed by the finance ministry in view of a severe financial crunch and stagnant economic growth.

"We stand by our valiant men, who are laying down their lives to safeguard our country," finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told parliament.

"The country has constantly been suffering because of the existing security situation" but the government was determined to improve the economy and provide security to the people, he said.

More than 4,410 people have been killed across Pakistan in bomb blasts and suicide attacks blamed in Taliban- and al Qaeda-linked militants since July 2007.

The total outlay for fiscal 2011-12 was Rs 2,767 billion (USD 32.17 billion), 14.2 percent higher than the size of the budget estimates for 2010-11.

The government also earmarked Rs 1,454.73 million under its public sector development programme for ongoing schemes of the defence production division for 2011-12.

According to details provided in budget documents, Rs 1,089.43 million was allocated for installation of ship lift and transfer system, associated machinery, equipment to provide docking and repair facilities for surface ships, submarines and commercial vessels of up to 4,000 tonnes.

Moreover, Rs 365.3 million was allocated for civil works for upgrading Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works.

An allocation of Rs 22,000 million was made for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission under the public sector development programme, budget documents said.

The Pakistan government has traditionally made defence allocations with the objective of maintaining conventional parity with India.

Bureau Report

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