Bangladesh Defence Budget FY 2009-10

The government has proposed a Tk 1,512 crore increase in defence expenditure to finance some major purchases needed to modernise the armed forces.

In his budget speech, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said he has set aside an allocation of Tk 10,695 crore for the next financial year.

He also said the country's first defence policy will be finalised in the next financial year. The government has already taken steps to that end.

“We want to continue enhancing the defence capability of our country by restructuring the defence system,” Muhith said.

Meanwhile, a senior army official told The Daily Star the government is increasing the defence spending as it plans to go for a big purchase for the army, navy and air force after a long time.

He said that many an equipment being used by Bangladeshi contingents on UN peacekeeping missions is years-old and losing performance.

"We need to purchase gears for our forces on peacekeeping missions. We'll have to buy over 200 APCs (armoured personnel career) and they are quite expensive," the officer said.

Citing more examples, he said the army has a tank regiment that should have 44 functional tanks. But the tanks in that regiment are decades old and need to be replaced.

"It is very difficult to get spare parts for those old tanks," he said that it means the government will have to buy some new tanks as well.

The same is true for the two other forces--navy and air force.

Navy needs new offshore patrol vessels, which are medium type battle ships.

The air force needs to upgrade their aircraft and purchase some new, the officer said.

Besides the new purchases, an upgrade is necessary to keep the aircraft and other equipment functional, he continued.

Muhith in his budget speech said, “We are continuing with enhancing the facilities of higher training, providing modern military hardware and other benefits for the defence forces while reinforcing our diplomatic initiatives to ensure national security."

He also said the government is going for a significant increase in the defence budget, “taking into consideration the overall role of defence services, insecurity and development of the country and their glorious image in the international arena.”

The parliamentary standing committee on defence ministry in separate reports on the army, navy and air force last year said an acute shortage of fund stands in the way to modernisation of the armed forces.

Currently, a very little portion of the fund allocated for the forces is used for defence purchase as large portion of the share is spent on salaries, allowances, services and supplies.

In his budget speech last year, the finance minister announced that the government wants to restructure the country's defence system to ensure security of the country and the people and continue to improve defence capability.

For FY 2008-09, he proposed an allocation of Tk 7,967 crore that was later revised to Tk 8,196 crore. In the budget for the current year, the original allocation was Tk 8,382 crore.

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