The BIIIG day


Tomorrow is as far as this editor is concerned, the big day for defence.

Yes, Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan will be giving his annual budget vote and the National Treasury will issue its Estimates of National Expenditure – including for defence.

So tomorrow we find out the defence budget and where all the money is going.

It should not be a wholesale surprise. In October last year, in the so-called “mini-budget” the National Treasury trimmed the budget for the present financial year to March 31 by R255.878 million, cutting it to R34 349 087 000 from the R34 604 965 000 allocated in February last year.

The cut in the budget comes despite long-running concerns that the current allocation is insufficient. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in October in reply to a parliamentary question said the inadequate budget was impacting on the SANDF’s battle fitness and readiness. “Naturally, and as a matter of life, any gap in resources will have some kind of impact on the activities one is engaged in. That applies to the department of defence and the SANDF.” The SANDF’s budget needed to be a matter of concern for all South Africans, she said.
“The matter has not been dealt [with] to the full satisfaction of the ministry and the department and we remain hopeful that the budget would be increased in the not-too-distant future,” she added. Sisulu has previously argued for a budget equivalent to 2% of GDP, which would roughly amount to an increase in her budget to R50 billion. But last February’s ENE suggested just R37 371 billion for this coming financial year and R39 702 billion for FY2013/4.