Defence allocation not to exceed three per cent of GDP
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan`s defence authorities informed a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the United States still owed about $3.5 billion out of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to Islamabad for services provided by it to coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The chairperson of the National Assembly`s Standing Committee on Finance, Ms Fauzia Wahab, told journalists after a closed-door meeting that of the total amount of $12 billion under the Coalition Support Fund, about $8.4 billion had been paid to Islamabad while about Rs3.5 billion was outstanding.
Informed sources said the armed forces had moved a demand for Rs582 billion defence budget for next year, but it was scaled down by the ministry of defence which recommended an allocation of Rs524 billion. The ministry of finance has, however, indicated an allocation of about Rs495-500 billion.
When asked if the defence budget could be increased from Rs495 billion as suggested by the finance ministry, Ms Wahab said the possibility could not be ruled out, but it would be ensured that defence budget did not exceed 3 per cent of the GDP.
According to government estimates, 3 per cent of GDP translates into Rs619 billion as the size of next year`s gross domestic product has been put at Rs20,638 billion.
The current year`s total defence budget, including grants, has been estimated at about Rs552 billion, although the defence allocation was put at Rs442 billion in the budget.
Ms Wahab said the ministry of defence had given a detailed briefing to the committee on foreign military finances and coalition support fund.
She said allocations for the ministry of foreign affairs would need to be increased by 40 per cent to help it meet operational expenses to promote trade and cultural activities abroad.
She said the current focus of 117 Pakistani missions abroad having a total strength of 1800 persons was defence, security and visa but its rules of business should be changed to have multi-pronged focus that included trade and cultural activities.
She explained that in several countries the presence of Pakistani products which was negligible at present would have to be increased.