The defence ministry has approached the 15th Finance Commission to create a non-lapsable fund for buying weapons that will help expedite the procurement of weapons for the armed forces.
The demand for such a fund – to accelerate a notoriously slow process hobbled by red tape -- has been made in several forums, including before the parliamentary standing committee on defence.
The defence ministry’s demand comes shortly after the armed forces raised red flags over non-availability of funds for modernising the armed forces.
"I am talking to the Finance Commission so that funding of defence procurement doesn't happen with uncertainty because the process of defence procurement is so cumbersome,” said defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Sitharaman said her ministry usually has funds at the time of deciding on a procurement, but at the crunch point, there are no funds. “We don't want that kind of that kind of uncertainty,” she said at an annual meeting of the lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry in Delhi.
Sitharaman said the government is trying to ease defence procurement process for Indian companies by fast tracking the testing of prototypes of weapon systems. The defence ministry recently released a draft defence production policy that seeks to make India self reliant in the defence sector within eight years.
"We have been consulting industry on defence production policy to understand where actually is the problem of obstruction," said Sitharaman.
Lt Gen Subrata Saha (Retd), director general of Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers welcomed the proposal. “This is highly reassuring and will mitigate risks."