Defence and finance minister Arun Jaitley today said that the ''slow pace'' of acquisition of weapon systems by India is a matter of concern, and the government will work towards ''expediting'' procurements for the armed forces.
Continuing the flurry of policy statements made outside parliament by ministers in the new Narendra Modi administration, Jaitley said the ''resources of the country, notwithstanding various pressures, have to make available a significant amount for those in the defence of the country''.
Jaitley's comments, made after attending the Naval Commanders' Conference in New Delhi, were widely seen as a hint that the defence allocation will be raised in the union budget to be presented next month.
''The key matter of concern appears to be the slow pace of acquisition of whatever equipment and assets are required. The Navy has highlighted that ... the hope of the forces is that their requirements should be fulfilled and the process should also be expedited. The effort of the government would be to work in that direction,'' Jaitley said.
Talking to reporters after a detailed interaction with the top brass of the Navy at the commanders' conference, the minister said, ''There are several decisions in the pipeline and I think there is a good case for these processes to be expedited''.
Jaitley was no doubt referring to the spate of fatal accidents in the Indian Navy that actually prompted the resignation of its commander-in-chief Admiral D K Joshi earlier this year (See: Navy chief Joshi resigns after new submarine disaster). But the Navy has several acquisition projects stuck for many years, including the Rs6,000 crore 16 multi-role helicopter acquisition project and the acquisition of torpedoes for its Scorpene submarines.
Its tender for acquiring six new submarines under Project-75 India, estimated to cost over Rs1,00,000 crore, is also stuck as the government needs to amend a 1999 decision to build all future submarines only indigenously.
The Navy is also waiting for a final clearance to acquire 16 mine counter-measure vessels from a South Korean firm which has been stuck after complaints were filed against the fairness of the process under the previous government.