Gordhan giveth, Gordhan taketh


Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has cut this year’s defence budget by R272 742 000, taking the R30 715 333 allocated in February down to R30 442 591 for the year to March 2011.

This is in addition to earlier “efficiency savings” imposed on the Departments of Defence and Military Veterans by the National Treasury. In February Gordhan cut defence spending by R8 billion over the next three years. on the Department of Defence. The cuts come at a time when state revenues are down sharply and government is under pressure to deliver better social service. But the cuts also come as Members of Parliament, defence officials and comentators warn that the budget – even before the efficiency drive – was insufficient and that cost-cuting was damaging the military.

The Treasury’s Estimates of National Expenditure document released with the national budget pruned the current budget by R3.2 billion, next year’s by R2.2 billion and that of FY2012/13 by R2.1 billion. “Included in the total reduction is a saving of R4.5 billion due to the cancellation of the Airbus A400M aircraft contract” the ENE said.

Gordhan also authorised unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure of R225 million under the Force Employment programme. “An additional R200 million is allocated for the South African National Defence Force for the support provided to the South African Police Service during the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” the Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure released today says. “An additional R25 million is allocated for support provided during the 2010 public service strike.”

Adjustments due to “significant and unforeseeable economic and financial events” include an additional R352.4 million within the budget for “higher personnel remuneration increases than the main budget provided for, including the increased housing allowance”. The funding relates to last December’s across-the-board salary increase for the military. “…as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] , it is my pleasure to announce increases in the salaries of members of the SANDF, who are on salary levels 2 to 12, from privates to colonels or the occupational class of military practitioner. The increases will range from 2% to 65%, and this is effective from December 1, 2009,” Zuma said December 16.