Defence budget can't take more cuts: Sisulu
The SA National Defence Force budget cannot afford to take further cuts, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.
The current budget was made under a global economic environment that continued to be uncertain, resulting in pressures being exerted on defence budgets across the world, she told the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.
"This requires that we continue to seek to achieve higher levels of efficiency in all our operations and more precise targeting towards the achievement of our key priorities.
"While this is the case, it is also important to emphasise that the defence budget cannot afford to take further cuts, thereby shrinking the proportion to GDP to levels lower that the current low levels of 1.2 percent of GDP, as this will impact negatively on our readiness," Sisulu said.
The discussions and proposals being made as society debated the defence review document should help in determining the direction the SANDF needed to take and therefore the related resource allocations going forward.
The current budget allocation for 2012/13 was R37.5 billion. It was expected to grow to R39.9 billion in 2013/14, and reach R42.3 billion in 2014/15.
Changes to the baseline over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) period included R749.2 million for borderline control, R23 million for establishing the Office of the Military Ombud, and R600 million for completing the strategic defence procurement programme.
"I need not state the obvious that every literate South African now knows that the budget falls far below the requirement that we wanted to cover all of our borders, resulting in a need to prioritise key areas and develop strategies that will ensure we are able to deter and prevent illegal activities in these areas," she said.
The defence department had done exceptionally well in its operation clean audit.
"Once we have declared ourselves out of the qualified delinquent status, which we know will be soon, we'll enter into serious negotiations with National Treasury about the increase of the defence budget."
No defence force anywhere in the world, which had the responsibilities the SANDF had, was as under-funded as the SANDF.
"We need to ensure that we are efficiently funded. Our value to the state in the defence of this country is the factor that should determine the size of our budget."
In the past, government's priorities determined the budget, now it was about the value of the investment to the state.
The SANDF had tirelessly spent the past three years to show that it used state resources responsibly, Sisulu said.