Pak hikes defence spending by 17%

Pak hikes defence spending by 17% Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday hiked its defence spending for 2010-11 to Rs Rs 442.2 billion (USD 5.18 billion), marking an increase of nearly 17 per cent over the spending for the past fiscal.

The "Budget at a Glance" document said Rs 442.2 billion had been allocated for "defence affairs and service".

Further details were not immediately available. The total size of the budget for 2010-11 was Rs 3,259 billion, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told parliament.

Though the Pakistan government had provided Rs 342.9 billion for defence in 2009-10, it allocated an additional Rs 35 billion earlier this year for expenses on anti-militancy operations and the acquisition of modern equipment to counter a perceived threat from India.

The government recently hiked the salaries of armed forces personnel and provided additional allowances to troops engaged in operations against the militants.

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

However, a crippling financial crunch had forced the government to balance defence spending and expenditure on development and welfare programmes.

In his budget speech, Finance Minister Shaikh noted that the security situation had not been totally brought under control despite recent gains made by security forces in their drive against militants.

He said the total expenditure of the government had been frozen to repay debts and to spare funds for development programmes.

He also said tax reforms would be implemented from October 1.

Under the Public Sector Development Programme for 2010-11, the government allocated Rs 3,887.13 million for 52 ongoing and 13 new schemes of the Defence Division.

The total amount includes Rs 225.461 million allocated for new projects and Rs 3,361.67 million for ongoing schemes.

Rs 800 million was allocated for the Pakistan satellite communication system (Paksat-IR), Rs 346.63 million for the Paksat Project (Phase-I Extension) and Rs 170.56 million for the Satellite Bus Development Facility (Phase-I).

Among the new schemes, Rs 103.307 million was earmarked for the National Electronic Complex of Pakistan.

The government also allocated Rs 15,227.52 million for ongoing and new schemes of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission under the Public Sector Development Programme.

This includes Rs 10,370.41 million for two nuclear power plants to be built at the Chashma Nuclear Power Project and Rs 2,765.541 million for a nuclear plant currently being built at the same site.

Rs 156.56 million was allocated for detailed exploration of uranium resources in Bannu basin and Kohat plateau in northwest Pakistan while Rs 56.87 million was allocated for the Nuclear Power Fuel Testing Project in Mianwali.