The Department of Defence (DoD) says it is in talks with the National Treasury to establish a “contingency budget for peace support”. The Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) reported an unnamed defence official disclosed this to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) earlier this month.
The issue arose after Treasury briefed the Parliamentary watchdog that the military in the 2003/4 financial year spent R40 292 419 on unauthorised expenditure related to peace support operations. “In the case of peace support, an amount of R40 million had been involved that the Department had not budgeted for. The amount was later authorised,” the PMG reported.
The DoD, in a submission to SCOPA to now also authorise the figure, avered that the over-expenditure was due to an inadequate allocation in the Adjustment Estimate for the deployment of the SANDF on peace support initiatives in Africa as ordered by the President, directed by the Minister and approved by Cabinet. “The Treasury Committee was informed accordingly in November 2003. An additional amount of R803.350 million was requested during the Adjustment Budget in 2003 but the National Treasury Committee approved only R506 million.” Peacekeeping that year cost R808.170 million although the nett shortfall was limited to the R40.292 million by reprioritising planned expenditure within the DoD.
The briefing caused Inkatha Freedom Party MP Narend Singh to remark that a protocol had to be established between the DoD Department and the Presidency. “The Presidency had to stop asking delivery from a department without a budget,” he said.
The official then responded with word about the contingency fund. The official added the size of the fund would be based on projections from previous years. The contingency requirements would be based on interventions and projections about situations on the continent, the PMG added.