Nuclear sector expected to get Rs 8bn in next defence budget

ISLAMABAD: The budgetary allocations for the non-operational side of Pakistan’s nuclear sector are expected to touch Rs 8 billion in the upcoming fiscal, showing an expected increase of up to 1.8 billion rupees or 28 percent, compared to Rs 6.2 billion originally allocated for the nuclear sector in the ongoing fiscal year, later revised at Rs 6.5 billion, Daily Times has learned.
The expected allocations for the nuclear sector would be part of the defence budget for 2014-15. Exclusively available with Daily Times, details of the recommended budgetary allocations sent by the Defence Ministry to the Finance Ministry suggest that Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has recommended an increase of not less than Rs 8 billion in its budget. This implies an increase of 28 percent considering the PAEC’s original budget in this fiscal year was Rs 6.2 billion, which, according to a senior defence official, was revised to Rs 6.5 billion. 
Most part of the recommended budgetary allocations in the nuclear sector would deal with non-operational side for running the PAEC governance, the source said. “The recommended increase is aimed at carrying out day-to-day activities or to take care of routine matters. This has nothing to do with the management of nuclear arsenal or related operations,” the official said.  
Talking to this correspondent, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that nuclear sector carried paramount importance in the country’s defence arrangement. “This is beyond any doubt that defence and strategic sectors are greatly augmented with our ‘invincible’ nuclear capability,” he claimed. 
The minister, however, refused to respond to the queries regarding expected increase in the defence budget particularly in the nuclear sector. “Such kind of details, I am afraid, cannot be shared publicly but we have made every possible effort to address the defence requirements while keeping in view the economic constraints.” 
On April 29, 2014, Daily Times exclusively reported that defence authorities recommended to the federal government an allocation of Rs 752 billion for the 2014-15 fiscal, which is 20 percent more than the ongoing budget of Rs 627 billion, presently revised at Rs 655 billion.The authorities sought over Rs 372 billion for the Pakistan Army, Rs 157 billion for the Pakistan Air Force and Rs 75 billion for the Pakistan Navy in the upcoming defence budget (operational). 
This makes the operational defence budget of the Armed Forces estimated at Rs 604 billion of the total Rs 752 billion with remaining Rs 148 billion likely to go the defence and defence production organisations. 
Except for the PAEC, the recommended funds allocations for other defence production organisations remain unspecified. Moreover, the annual budget of Survey of Pakistan, a Defence Ministry-headed department, for this fiscal year is Rs 982 million. It is expected to touch Rs 1.2 billion in the next defence budget.
The defence budget (2013-14) initially included budget of the Aviation Division consisting of Civil Aviation Authority, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Airport Security Force and Pakistan Meteorological Department. But, after the government’s decided to separate Aviation Division from the Defence Ministry, funds were diverted from the defence budget to the Aviation Division accordingly. Up to Rs 250 billion (not part of defence budget) are expected to go to the Aviation Division next year, of which, the PIA, which is to be privatised, is expected to get Rs 125 billion, as compared to its present budget of Rs 105 billion.

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