Thursday, January 10, 2013

Belgium: The defense budget lacks transparency

UPDATE The Ministry of Defence has made progress in its budget presentation, but did not sufficiently take into account the comments made by the Court of Auditors considers this institution in its comments on the section devoted to the defense in the draft 2013 budget of the Federal Government.

The Court has repeatedly stated in previous reports, that the distribution of the appropriations entered in this section "does not match the standards of budget programs", which aims to bind the loans granted by parliament - 2710000000 euros this year for defense - specific objectives.

Minimal changes

These observations led Defence to "make a number of changes in the presentation of the initial budget of the year 2012, recognized by the Court of Auditors - by opening a" nation assistance "to" isolate tasks that are not specifically military missions. "Similarly, the department has" broken "part of the appropriations staff in several programs budget."

But these changes did however reach a "limited", so that the earlier remarks "remain current in their entirety," said the Court of Auditors.

It therefore considers that the allocation of funds for basic allowances practiced by the Defence "offers an image of insufficient allocation needs" department. This note focuses on personnel costs referred to as "subsistence" (salaries and allowances of military and civilian personnel) and operation - for amounts of € 172.8 million covering "costs varied between seemingly unrelated them "and 42.2 million. This represents 36.5% of the total operating costs of the department.

"Such groups of loans are likely to make less clear the extent of the budgetary authorization by parliament," said the Court of Auditors.

Lack of respect for Parliament

MPs Wouter De Vriendt (Groen) and Juliette Boulet (Ecolo), who took note of this report, denounced Tuesday the lack of transparency from the Defence Minister Pieter De Crem (CD & V), and announced their intention to interview Wednesday in committee in the House.

"The lack of transparency Minister De Crem shows little respect for Parliament," noted the two environmentalists elected in a statement.

According to them, this is not the first time that the Court of Auditors formula such remarks. "Every year, Mr De Crem been criticism that class" without result in "learning from insufficient", say two deputies.

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