Budget 2021

‘Increasing FDI in defence dangerous’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

India's defence manufacturing firms will come under the control of foreign multinationals

Former Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony termed the Budget disappointing. He said certain suggestions such as increasing the FDI limit in defence and cutting subsidies can be dangerous for the country and the people. Excerpts:

Your reaction to the Budget…

It is totally disappointing. This Budget is presented as a culmination of a four-month campaign about the issues and problems faced by the country. During the election, price rise was the most important issue debated in the country.

One of the major reasons for our defeat has been the BJP’s campaign that we were utterly useless in controlling prices.

Instead of the new Government controlling prices, prices are shooting up. Almost all the essential items, especially food items, cost much more than they did during the UPA regime.

But is it fair to criticise a one-month-old Government over price, since you were in power for the last ten years?

We are now in the Opposition because of their propaganda that we failed to tackle price rise.

No one is expecting a magical solution to this burning problem of the people. But they should have been able to give direction or present some proposals to address the issue. I read the speech at least thrice, but failed to find a single proposal to control prices.

Also, there is no mention of the speedy implementation of the Food Security Act that assures supply of food grains at a cheaper rate to people. Instead, the Budget proposes to reduce the fiscal deficit and stabilise finances by cutting all subsidies, including the food subsidy. This is a dangerous trend. Instead of strengthening the Act and the PDS, the Government says it will relook at the subsidies.

There is a proposal to increase the FDI limit in defence. What are your views?

The proposal to increase FDI from 26 to 49 per cent will harm our national security. Gradually, all the Indian defence manufacturing companies will come under the control of foreign multinationals — most of them are controlled by big powers.

Hitherto, India enjoyed an independent foreign policy and strategy independence; it was scrupulously avoiding joining any of the military blocks even though it was friendly with almost all the important countries.

Indian defence companies coming under the control of foreign multinational defence production firms will result in these companies indirectly trying to interfere with India’s military partnerships.

So far, successive governments since 1991 have resisted the pressure from various lobbies to increase the FDI limit in defence.

Published on July 10, 2014

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