Salaries are the largest component of the defence budget
The lion’s share of the defence budget for the 2016/17 financial year will go to paying the salaries of the around 80 000 men and women in uniform and civilian clothing who make up the personnel of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), according to the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV). The budget tabled in the National Assembly this week by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan shows 57% of the total budget of R47.169 billion - just on R27 billion – as “compensation of employees”. And it doesn’t stop there as the figure is expected to rise to R27.1 billion in the following financial cycle. The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) for the DoDMV note: “As part of Cabinet’s decision to lower the national aggregate expenditure ceiling, the department’s compensation of employees budget has been reduced by R1.9 billion in 2017/18 and by R2.9 billion in 2018/19, decreasing its share of total expenditure to 53.5%.” Overall the allocation given to defence is slightly up from the R44.579 billion Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula received from then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene last year in February. Defence watchers point out when the Rand/dollar exchange rate and inflation is taken into account, military spending is again one of the poor relations as far as National Treasury is concerned. In his budget speech Gordhan lumped defence, public order and safety into one category and said spending on them will rise from R172 billion this financial year to R204 billion in the next.