Defence department gets more money from mid-term budget


The Department of Defence and Military Veterans has received an additional R400 million from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who allocated the extra funds in his mid-term budget policy statement.

According to treasury documents, an additional R271 million has been allocated to force employment for the 2013/14 year; R248 million has been taken away from the landward defence budget, R535 million has been taken away from the air defence budget, R63 million has been taken away from the maritime defence budget and R119 million has been added to the military health support budget.

Overall, an additional R414 million has been allocated to defence for 2013/14, with the majority of the money going to force employment, military health, general support (R791 million), administration (R74 million) and defence intelligence (R5 million).

The force employment allocation is a welcome boost for the South African National Defence Force, as it has been cut to the bone, but other reductions may raise doubts about re-equipment of the various arms of service. For instance, infantry capability, transport and maritime aircraft, air combat capability and maritime combat capability all received cuts under the adjusted appropriations announced by Gordhan.

The Treasury said that for the defence department, “Compared to the first six months of 2012/13, expenditure over the same period in 2013/14 increased by R2.335 billion, or 14.5 per cent. This was mainly due to salary increases, additional external deployments and the settlement of a claim against the department.”

This claim is believed to be from Austrian company AMST Systemtechnik Gmbh, which received R300 million after the defence department failed to honour its contractual obligations regarding advance payment for the supply of equipment, believed to be aeromedical in nature. The contract was subsequently cancelled and the defence department ordered to pay compensation.

The Treasury allocated an additional R150 million to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for sending troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of the United Nations force intervention brigade there. This was classified under unseen and unavoidable expenditure. Over a thousand SANDF personnel, as well as assets like helicopters, have been deployed to the DRC.

In terms of other operations this year, the Treasury noted that thirteen landward sub-units have been deployed on border safeguarding tasks (Operation Corona) and that 1 710 hours have been flown in support of air defence between April and September, out of the target of 6 500 for the 2013/2014 year.
“The [department] has reprioritised funds, away from computer services and the special defence accounts for weapons procurement, to the operational budget of the SA Air Force,” the treasury said in the 2013 mini budget, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. However, budget documents show that money has been stripped from air defence and allocated to force employment, from which the Air Force will presumably get some money from.
5 105 hours have been spent at sea over the last six months from April to September, out of the original target of 22 000 for the 2013/2014 financial year. “The department had recorded only 5 105 hours at sea by mid-year and expects to record 12 000 hours by year end, not the 22 000 initially projected,” according to the Treasury. “This is because of the decline in operational activities in support of counter piracy operations, which are conducted through the Maritime Defence programme.”

Treasury documents indicate that R18.43 billion, or 45.3% of the defence budget (which totals R40.658 billion for the year) was spent between April and September this year, with R1.4 billion being spent on force employment, R6.2 billion on landward defence, R2.6 billion on air defence, R1.4 billion on maritime defence and R1.7 billion on military health.

In the mini-budget document, it was revealed that the SANDF has conducted five joint, interdepartmental and military exercises between April and September and used 13 551 active reserves – most likely for border security operations.

The department counts 5 107 military skills development members in the system, and expects to exceed its target as the intake of trainees from the South African Navy and the South African Military Health Service in January 2013 was higher than anticipated.

A total of R50.357 million was generated by selling equipment and spares and this will be used “for defence activities,” with R41.8 million being allocated to landward defence, R6.8 million to air defence and R1.6 million to maritime defence.