At least one member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is frustrated by the apparent unwillingness of National Treasury to talk defence budget and salaries.
Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais said the receipt – at short notice – of a postponement request from National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane was almost dismissive.
“It is frustrating that National Treasury seems to be the division deciding on budget allocations for the national defence force and then postponing an important meeting. This definitely hampers the committee’s oversight role,” he told defenceWeb.
Mogajane’s letter is addressed to portfolio committee chair Cyril Xaba and is headed “Briefing by DoD and National Treasury on the current budget shortfall in terms of compensation of employees as well as funding for the Defence Review work packages”.
He proposes postponing the meeting – scheduled for today (4 September) – to allow the current budget process to deal with the topics asked for by the Portfolio Committee before “engagements with Parliament”.
The letter goes on to state “during the 2019 Ministers’ Committee on Budget Technical Committee meeting, the DoD informed National Treasury that the department is in the process of arranging a high-level meeting involving the President, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Public Service and Administration and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans to address funding related challenges of the DoD. The issues highlighted by the Committee require attention of the Executive and I recommend that this process be allowed to unfold so that a comprehensive way forward can thereafter be reported to Parliament”.
Mogajane adds “National Treasury acknowledges the urgency of this matter and will expedite finalisation accordingly”.