Antony hopes for hike in 2009-10 defence budget

February 11th, 2009 - 6:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Feb 11 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Wednesday hoped that the defence budget for fiscal 2009-10 beginning April 1 would rise despite the recession the Indian economy was going through.
“The percentage of defence expenditure in terms of the GDP has been almost constant. For the last two years it (the defence budget) has been increasing. I hope this year also it will increase,” Antony said at a press conference here after inaugurating the seventh edition of the Aero India international air show.

The defence outlay for fiscal 2008-09 was 1.97 percent of the GDP. Antony has often said this should be at 2-3 percent of the GDP.

Antony also asserted that the modernisation of the armed forces will not suffer due to the global meltdown.

“There is some impact of recession in many countries but in India the impact is less. But despite the recession, the modernisation of the armed forces will not suffer,” he said, adding: “Modernisation and defence will get maximum priority.”

Talking about the Indian Air Force’s purchase of 126 combat jets, Antony said that the selection process will be “transparent”.

“We will not show favouritism or negativism to anybody. Everything will be transparent and the decision will be based on merits and quality,” Antony said.

Speaking about the intrusive end-user verification agreement that governs the sale of US military hardware to India, Antony said that things were “progressing” and that both countries wants to narrow down their differences on the issue.

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