Amid strong rumours that the government is planning to cut the defence layout by Rs10,000 crore in the upcoming annual budget to narrow its yawning fiscal deficit, finance minister P Chidambaram today parried a question in this regard.
"So the Rs10,000 crore, which is reportedly being cut ... you will know what is being cut only when the budget is presented.
"If it is cut for this year it is cut, you cannot do anything about it. That money you cannot have. Can it be provided next year? We can, provided we can grow at a higher rate and we have more money," he said while delivering the K Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture in New Delhi.
Chidambaram pointed out that a cut in defence expenditure or on police forces "will severely compromise our defence and security preparedness and diminish our capacity to meet the challenges to national security."
Defence minister A K Antony, speaking at the Aero India 2013 show in Bangalore, also seemed to avoid committing himself on whether there will be a cut in the defence budget.
Questioned on the issue, he merely said there would not be any cut in priority areas and operational preparedness of the defence forces.