Federal Budget 2024-25: The Defence Budget is in defensive mode

Federal Budget 2024-25: The Defence Budget is in defensive mode

Islamabad, Pakistan: The Federal Government has tabled budget demands for the fiscal year of 2024-25 to Parliament. As expected this budget is not only based on indirect taxes rather the salaried class taxation has increased for revenue collection. This is the simplest way to enhance revenue collection for collecting revenue at source before salaries go to the salaried class.

The trickle-down effect would be a strong criticism that the government would soon face. In Pakistan, no government has ever tried to tax middleman economy and traders that are almost tax-free. Whenever the annual budget comes, it has been noted that to divert attention from the failure of the administrative machinery to collect tax from untaxed strata of society, a sponsored debate starts in Pakistan that the lion’s share of the budget is taken away by Defence purposes. The civil administration is an expert in diverting attention from their perks and privileges and targeting military expenditures and parliamentarian expenditures. Who cares if over 200 new SUVs amounting to Rs. 3 billion are bought for deputy commissioners of any province although they already have the best of the best vehicles to reach offices from their fully paid residences but the debate moves around Defence budget is not only defence budget rather since the 2000s, it is the budget to fight against terrorism in the country. If budget demands grants are checked with facts and figures instead of rhetorical devices, it comes to the surface that those who need heavy Defence demands the defence of the country are in defensive mode, and instead of demanding what they need are constantly sacrificing their defence requirements. The month of June is very important in Pakistan in which the budget is presented, as soon as the date of the budget is fixed, various questions related to the budget arise in the mind, in which the defense budget becomes the most discussed topic. Yes, many assumptions in this regard come out on media platforms and these assumptions are mostly too loaded with vested interests of those who want to shun attention from their perks and put Defence Budget as the target of the criticism which has nothing to do with the facts. If the defense budget is examined in the light of assumptions and facts, the truth of these assumptions comes out.

   

Pakistan’s defense budget as a percentage of GDP has also declined steadily since the 1980s from 5.5 percent of GDP to an all-time low of 1.7 percent of GDP in FY 2023-24. percent. According to the Global Firepower Index, India is the fourth best army in the world while Pakistan is at the 9th position in this list. The Global Firepower Index compiles the list after looking at the data of more than 60 factors. GDP, population, military strength, purchasing power, etc. are included to determine the fighting capacity of a country in the event of a full conventional war. 90% of this budget goes to compulsory payments and the army manages its own welfare, the welfare of the families of the martyrs, and the welfare of the youth. Pakistan’s defense budget has not increased in the last 5 years, but in 2019 it was cut by more than 3 billion US dollars to support national economic growth because Project Imran was playing havoc with the financial help of the country and the military came out to bail him the country out from the economic crisis. Pakistan Army’s fair and balanced utilization of the defense budget every year has enabled reducing the burden on the national budget.

In the last fiscal year 22-23, the total national budget was Rs 9.5 trillion, while the defense budget was Rs 1.5 trillion (US$7.1 billion) which was 15.7 percent of the budget. In the fiscal year 23-24, the total national budget was Rs. The arrangement is 14.4 trillion rupees while the defense budget is set at 1.8 trillion rupees (US$6.3 billion) which is only 12.5 percent of the budget, making it the lowest percentage of defense budget allocation in Pakistan’s history. This means that the total national budget arrangement has increased by 53.6% compared to the previous year but on the contrary, the defense budget has decreased by more than 3% compared to the previous year. In the last fiscal year 22-23, the share of the army in the defense budget was 7.6 percent of the national budget. It has also been substantially reduced to only 5.69 percent (Rs. 824 billion) of the national budget in the current fiscal year 23-24. Salaries and allowances are also included. Administrative expenses include transport, petroleum, oil, ration, treatment, training, etc., import of arms and ammunition and related purchases, and civil works.

If these figures are compared with other countries of the world, it is proved that the armed forces of Pakistan are struggling with the most difficult challenges of border security, operations against terrorists, and internal and external security with fewer resources. It is proven that despite all the financial, economic, and security challenges, the defense budget of the army is constantly being cut and this budget is far less than the major army of any country in the world.

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