Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that the security challenge India faces will be prioritised in resource allocation over all requirements as the “sovereignty of the country is most important“.
“In India, in addition to all the global events which leave an impact on us, we also have the security challenge. The security challenge involves an element of uncertainty . It also involves a lot of national resources being diverted in that direction and it will always get top priority,“ Jaitley said a State Bank of India conference.
The FM’s reference to defence allocation comes in a year when funds for the crucial sector have been increased by 9.76% to Rs 2.58 lakh crore for the FY 17 Budget, and military pension soared to Rs 82,000 crore mainly due to the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme.
The finance minister’s comments follow rising tensions with Pakistan in the wake of the Uri attack. The Narendra Modi government is weighing options on its response to the attack by Pakistan-based terrorists in which 18 soldiers were killed. The FM also touched upon the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State (IS). “You have the uncertainty and the huge challenge created the world over by what is happening in large parts of on account of the activities and dangers posed by the IS. A global economy cannot be delinked from it,“ said Jaitley.
He also talked about the surprises thrown up by public responses. “Brexit is an evidence of the uncertainty of public response. The tenor of debate in many countries -the US in particular -is becoming extremely protectionist.While what happens in course of an election campaign may get moderated at the implementation stage, campaigns do push part of the agenda itself,“ said Jaitley.
Stating that it was reasonably possible to meet the April 2017 deadline on implementing GST, Jaitley said that, compared to the last 25 years, the country is at a stage where there is a whole new generation which has become far more aspirational and is guiding public opinion.“The direct consequence is that channelising public debate towards reform is far easier. Even on important steps and schemes for poverty alleviation we have broken off from past tradition of merely raising slogans,“ he said.
“There is a greater realisation that for poverty alleviation you will need resources and an enriched state to enable it spend on poverty alleviation,“ said Jaitley. He added that the government’s move towards target subsidies had met with success.