Chief of the South African Navy Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu says his service is underfunded, adding he is keen to prove the point to Treasury.
Mudimu says one way he is doing so is ensuring the Navy spends its allocated funding.
“We are underfunded. I`m making sure the budget that has been allocated is spent according to the business plan so that the Navy is able to articulate [this] to the government…”
His budget manager is also raising the matter “at the appropriate forum” which is “the departmental budgeting and control committee, where now and then they will look into the entire situation of the entire department and try to make changes accordingly.”
Mudimu says his service has returned no allocated funding for at least the last four years.
CCII CEO Richard Young last year said another part of the problem was that the defence budget only accounts for about 5% of government spending. He estimated the sea service was underfunded by just “somewhat more than R720 million.”
The industrialist, whose company does business with the Navy, added that while the country “does indeed have many spending priorities, the only way that the acquisition of the new frigates and submarines can be justified is if they are optimally utilised and they simply cannot be without an adequate running budget.”
“Indeed, in my view, a reasonably modest increase … will allow the Navy to do its job properly while representing a minuscule fraction of the overall budget.”
Young says the Navy` entire running budget is currently R1.8 billion a year. By contrast, the state`s total budget for the financial year ending this month is R533 billion and defence`s share R26 billion.
He says the Navy`s share is “is a very modest amount to operate and support more than a dozen medium to large vessels, including four ultra-sophisticated guided missile frigates and three modern coastal attack submarines.”
As a result, “there`s not enough money to retain engineering and other technical skills, in order to carry out the required work, as well as insufficient funds for other necessary support expenditure.
“Under the circumstances the Navy is actually doing a sterling job overall, but this surely cannot be sustained long-term, especially if the Navy gets more vessels to compliment and complete the force,” he says with reference to Navy plans to acquire a new class of multipurpose offshore patrol vessel as well as one or more “strategic support ships”.
Young has long been a stern critic of government`s 1999 Strategic Defence Package that saw SA acquire four frigates, three submarines as well as 50 fighter aircraft and 30 helicopters.