UN payments to National Treasury to be used for “defence activities”
It appears progress is being made as regards the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) accessing funds paid into National Treasury’s B7 account. In his debut budget appearance this week Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivered his first medium term budget policy statement (MRBPS), better known as the mini-budget and there was a bare hint of going forward in the revised estimates of national expenditure (ENEs) for defence. The defence vote indicates revenue for the first six months of the 2017/18 financial year was R309,5 million (29,4%) of the adjusted estimate of R1,1 billion. In comparison mid-year revenue in 2016/17 was R519,1 million, 61,6% of that financial term’s adjusted estimate. “Compared to the first six months of 2016/17, revenue in 2017/18 decreased by R209,6 million (40,4%). This is mainly due to outstanding reimbursements from the United Nations for peace support operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo”. The ENEs also notes revenue totaling R380,7 million was “generated” from the United Nations for South Africa’s contribution to peace support operations and the sale of equipment and spares through the Special Defence Account (SDA).
“This will be returned to the vote from the National Revenue Fund and be used by the department for defence activities”. This, although there has been no official word, appears to be an outcome of meetings between a joint Department of Defence/National Treasury task team. The team’s establishment was announced by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, during her budget vote presentation earlier this year and, according to DoD head of communication, Siphiwe Dlamini, is doing well. He told defenceWeb in August: “Several meetings have been held, intense discussions have taken place and a range of information has been shared by the teams. The meetings have been positive and there is appreciation and understanding by both parties around and on the matters on the table. “The meetings are overseen by both the Director-General of National Treasury (Dondo Mogajane) and the Secretary for Defence (Dr Sam Gulube) and are held between senior officials from both departments. There is progress,” he said, but did not give any detail of possible extra funding allocations and which areas, if any, had been identified by defence component as urgently in need of additional funding. With no increase in the defence budget forthcoming, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s department is looking at alternative financing. This includes utilising funds paid to government by the United Nations as well as possibly generating revenue from properly and facility related activities. The revised ENEs point out the SA Navy spent just over two thousand nine hundred hours at sea in the first half of 2017/18 out of a targeted 12 000 hours. “Targets for operational tasks at sea are typically achieved in the fourth quarter,” according to the National Treasury document.