Monday, January 17, 2022

Defence reforms | Strengthening security infrastructure

Critical infrastructure is the backbone of a country’s national and economic security. To enhance the security infrastructure of the nation, a slew of measures have been undertaken by the government.

In another significant milestone, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the Delegation of Financial Powers to Armed Forces for revenue procurement.

Addressing the occasion, Defence Minister described the Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services 2021 as another big step in the series of defence reforms. He also stressed the need to revise the policies to cater to the needs of the Armed Forces, exuding confidence that Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services 2021 will not only overcome procedural delays but also bring about greater decentralisation and operational efficiency.

Why is Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services 2021 important?

The decision aims to empower field formations, focus on operational preparedness, promote ease of doing business and enhance jointness among the services. The enhanced delegation of Financial Powers would also result in quicker decision making at all levels. It would lead to better planning and operational preparedness of the services in a quicker time frame along with optimum utilisation of resources.

The primary focus of the enhanced delegation of financial powers is to empower Field Commanders so that they could speedily procure equipment/war-like stores. It would be quite helpful for urgent operational necessities and meeting essential sustenance requirements.

It is worth noting that the last such enhancement at all levels for the Defence Services was done in the year 2016.

Now, let’s get to know the transformation that has been brought by the Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services 2021.

A general enhancement of up to two times has been approved for the Competent Financial Authorities. On account of operational requirements, this enhancement at field formations is in the range of up to 5-10 times in certain schedules.

Moreover, the Delegated Financial Powers of Vice Chiefs of the Services have been increased by 10 per cent which is subject to an overall ceiling of Rs 500 crores. Also, the Financial Powers of Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs Of Staff Committee as CFA has been enhanced substantially aligned with that of the Vice Chiefs of the Services.

Further, an enabling provision of Emergency Financial Powers to the Field formations below Command level for the Defence Services has now been incorporated in the Emergency Powers Schedule. New Schedules have also been introduced to meet Strategic/Operational requirements, as per the existing Army Schedule on ‘Army Commanders Special Financial Powers

In line with the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat, substantial enhancement has been approved in the Schedules related to Indigenisation/Research & Development up to three times of the existing powers.

With this decision, the Indian Air Force could now hire Air to Air refuellers as a new schedule on the hiring of aircraft and associated equipment has been introduced for the Force. For the Indian Navy, powers for replenishment of Disaster Management Bricks have been delegated to Command Level for immediate response to Natural Disasters/HADR Operations.

Apart from this, a system of oversight, disclosure and internal audit mechanism will be put in place and the substantial delegation has also been approved for non-procurement powers.

Several productive reforms have been ushered in the defence sector and such measures have been a reflection of the Government’s resolve to make the defence sector stronger and more efficient.

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