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01:35 PM, July 5, 2019
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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with her team members (Image: The Hindu)

To encourage and speedup modernization in the defense sector, India has exempted customs duty on defense and military hardware imported from other countries.

“Defense has an immediate requirement of modernization and upgradation. This is a national priority. For this purpose, imports of defense equipment that are not being manufactured in India are being exempted from the basic customs duty,” Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister of India, said, while presenting the Union Budget 2019.

Indian Defense spending for 2019-20 has been estimated at 3.05 trillion rupees ($45 billion). Although higher than the previous fiscal of 2.85 trillion rupees ($41.5 billion), the increase only compensates for the inflation.

India has a number of defense related buys in the pipeline. These include procurement of 114 fighter jets for $15 billion to supplement its depleting fleet of combat aircraft, acquiring 10 Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft for $3 billion, $900 million MiG-29 buy, contract for additional Su-30MKI jets, 464 Russian T-90 tanks for $2 billion; 57 aircraft carrier-based fighters, 111 naval utility helicopters and 12 MQ-9 Sea Guardian drones for its navy, and more.

New Delhi has also issued request for proposal (RFP) for 6 next generation missile vessels for $2 billion, and its $14.4 billion project to develop a nuclear-powered submarine has also reportedly been kick started.

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