By Dr Farrukh Saleem
Myth 1: The allocation for defence is the single largest component in our budget. Not true. The single largest allocation in Budget 2013-14 went to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The second largest allocation in Budget 2013-14 went to servicing the national debt. The third largest government expenditure, including off the budget allocations, are the losses at public-sector enterprises (PSEs). Yes, the fourth largest government expenditure goes into defence.
Myth 2: The defence budget eats up a large percentage of the total outlay. Not true. In Budget 2013-14, a total of 15.74 percent of the total outlay was allocated for defence. PSDP and debt servicing were 30 percent each. What that means is that more than 84 percent of all government expenditures are non-defence related.
Myth 3: The defence budget has been increasing at an increasing rate. Not true. In 2001-02, we spent 4.6 percent of our GDP on defence. In 2013-14, twelve years later, our defence spending has gone down to 2.7 percent of GDP.
Myth 4: We end up spending a very high percentage of our GDP on defence. Not true. There are at least four dozen countries that spend a higher percentage of their GDP on defence.
They include: India, Egypt, Sri Lanka, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Eritrea, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Liberia, Brunei, Syria, Kuwait, Yemen, Angola, Singapore, Greece, Iran, Bahrain, Djibouti, Morocco, Chile, Lebanon, Russia, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Namibia, Guinea, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, Serbia and Montenegro, Armenia, Botswana, Ukraine, Uganda, Ecuador, Bulgaria, Lesotho and Sudan.
Myth 5: The Pakistan Army consumes the bulk of the defence budget. Not true. In the 1970s, the Pakistan Army’s share in the defence budget had shot up to 80 percent. In 2012-13, the Pakistan Army’s share in the defence budget stood at 48 percent.
Now some facts:
Fact 1: The Pakistan Army’s budget as a percentage of our national budget now hovers around eight percent.
Fact 2: Losses incurred at public-sector enterprises can pay for 100 percent of our defence budget.
Fact 3: Pakistan’s armed forces are the sixth largest but our expenses per soldier are the lowest. America spends nearly $400,000 per soldier, India $25,000 and Pakistan $10,000.
Fact 4: Of all the armies in the world, Pak Army has received the highest number of UN medals. Of all the armies in the world, Pak Army is the largest contributor of troops to the UN peacekeeping missions.
Mark Twain once remarked, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”
Courtesy: Dr. Farrukh Saleem