The Government is running out of time to deal with the Defense budget

The Government is running out of time to deal with the Defense budget
18 / 01 / 2021, 10:00

The Prime Minister strongly promised that he would not accept the communist request to cut the defense budget down by 10 billion Crowns. In the end he eventually did accept it, saying that the opposition was to blame, because it did not want to approve the Government's proposal for the entire budget, so the Government needed the support of the Communists. Defense Minister Metnar did not resign, saying that the money would be given to the Ministry of Defense and the Army back on January 4. This did not happen again with the explanation that the Government needed "numbers". There are two Government meetings left to fulfill another of the promises that the refund would take place in January, the first one is being held today.

An already exhaustive number of arguments have been made as to why the MoD should get back the ten billion transferred to the Government budget reserve in December. These are funds for investments that the Army has been counting on for a long time, and some of which have already been signed or negotiated to such an extent that the loss of funds really threatens delays. In terms of numbers: 25.1 billion is to be invested, 22 of which are for contracts already concluded or being completed.

See also: PM Babiš: 10 billion Crowns will be returned to the defense budget this month

Of course, the whole problem also has possible implications for the performance of the domestic defense industry, because if we disregard purely domestic projects, then Czech companies also participate significantly in the largest acquisitions. "Proponents of world peace" do not realize that by this unnecessary operation they threaten a segment of the economy that has not yet been fully affected by the pandemic, and for which a definitive removal of ten billion would mean significant losses.

At the same time, it is an amount for which everyone can easily and quickly conclude that it has no significance in the context of the entire state budget (1,808 billion of total expenses). At the same time, the budget does not yet take into account the approved „tax package“, which will reduce the income. The Government itself promised immediately after the approval of the budget that it would return the amount to the Army – it does not need it in the budget reserve, it does not want it, and it had the Communists force it there. On the other hand, the Government also relies on the Communists when the anti-covid measures are being voted in the Parliament.

Last Monday, the Supreme Audit Office published the conclusion of the inspection of the funds spent by the Ministry of Defense on the armament of the Army of the Czech Republic in the years 2017-2020. It is critical of the ministry in a number of ways. It recalls the adopted strategic documents and although it formally states the inefficient use of funds only for a thousandth of the inspected total amount, it also speaks in one of the points about not reaching the set milestone and not increasing individual combat capabilities, which the Concept of Building the Army of the Czech Republic envisaged.

See also: Supreme Audit Office: armament acquisitions system does not work as it should

If, for any reason, the Government succumbs to the communist approach beyond what it has shown so far, there is a risk of much more substantial consequences and delays in this regard. Without the funds it expects, the MoD will have to decide which acquisitions to postpone. At the same time, it is likely that it will have to save a certain amount in the current expenditure chapter as well. One might feel that everyone has to save in this crisis, so why not the Ministry of Defense. But the Army is underfunded in the long run. It carries with it a considerable internal debt deepened by the last crisis, and not resolving its situation would be extremely irresponsible - defense is one of the basic functions of the state. After all that has already been said, it would be hard to believe that the MoD will not get the promised funds back, but it is starting to be dramatic.

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