A.K. Antony triples service chiefs' budget to Rs 150 crore

Defence Minister A K Antony

Defence Minister A K Antony

Defence minister A.K. Antony on Monday approved the proposal to hike financial powers of service chiefs by three times from Rs 50 crore to Rs 150 crore in a move that could speed up urgent purchases for the armed forces.

The enhanced amount will enable services to carry out low valued essential purchases without waiting to get clearance from the defence ministry.

It had been a long pending demand of the services as one of the measures to speed up acquisitions.

Antony met the three service chiefs to review security.

After discussions, he held a separate one-on-one with army chief General V.K. Singh whose outburst in recent days has embarrassed the government. Gen. Singh, who retires on May 31, has gone public on the recent controversies surrounding him leading to the impression that he did not have the best of relations with the defence ministry.

The general had accused the ministry of leaking documents pertaining to dispute over his date of birth as well as a letter from him to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighting the army's lack of battle preparedness.

The letter led to an uproar and galvanised Antony to take some urgent measures to put the army's modernisation programme on fast track.

The decision to increase the purchasing power was an outcome of that effort.

The service chiefs were entitled to clear purchases up to Rs 50 crore only till now while the defence secretary had financial powers to sanction acquisition of Rs 75 crore.

For amounts beyond Rs 500 crore, sanction from the defence minister was required. for contracts of Rs 1,000 crore and above, approval of the cabinet committee on security was mandatory.


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