24 April 2012
Prageu, April 23 (CTK) - The situation of the Czech military is critical, it has enough money neither for the "minimal development variant" about which the White Paper speaks nor for the self-preservation variant, sociologist Antonin Rasek writes in daily Hospodarske noviny Monday.
This year the sector will get 1.4 billion crowns less than planned, which will affect the quality of training, Rasek writes.
If the situation continued, the share of money spent on salaries would increase from 55 percent now to 79 percent in two years, that would take the Czech Republic dangerously close to Slovakia and Hungary with 80 percent, Rasek writes.
He says this would practically mean the loss of any military ambitions.
Rasek writes that Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra and deputy chief of staff Petr Pavel said in early April that they could save up to one billion crowns through a reduction of agendas or their sharing with other public aministration offices.
It was high time for the ministry to start considering savings because it is not possible that the Defence Ministry that administers a 25,000-strong military should employ almost as many clerks as at the time when the sector had 250,000 people.
Rasek writes that it is not possible to keep silent on that the defence sector has got almost 870 billion crowns since 1993 when the Czech Republic was created. If inflation and the current exchange rate of the crown are taken into consideration, the figure rises to almost twice as much, which is about the level of the state debt, Rasek writes.
These figures arouse the question about how the means were spent, particularly if the White Paper says the military lacks 90 billion crowns to fulfil its ambitions, Rasek writes.
He says one cause are the exposed corruption cases. Spending without a reasonable strategy may be even more serious.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) said in an interview with Monday's issue of daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) the main cause rests in that the Defence Ministry's planners have not learnt to manage the finance they have since the Czech Republic entered NATO 13 years ago.
Kalousek, deputy defence minister in 1993-98, said the ministers who have been in office in the past 13 years have several times changed the economic model that he introduced at the ministry, and it was always for the worse.
He claims that the military tries to defend only its own interests, not the strategic defence interests of the country in discussions on savings.
Kalousek said the Czech Republic should follow the example of former U.S. defense minister Robert McNamara who in the 1960s defined the priorities and costs of specific programmes thanks to which the military can flexibly react to lack of money.
Kalousek said the Americans do not make cuts in all defence projects, but they abolish the least necessary. This leaves enough money for what remains, and it functions well.
Unlike this, the Czech Defence Ministry and the military staff keep everything, they take something from all military sections taht results in that nothing is fully operable, Kalousek said.
Also in MfD, Vondra recalled that the Czech Republic is not fulfilling its promise it gave when entering NATO and it is not spending 2 percent of GDP on the military annually, but only about 1 percent.
In 2014, the ministry should get even less money, Vondra said.
"Since my arrival at the ministry, I have been trying to lower overhead costs and seek cheaper purchases," Vondra told MfD.
Rasek recalls in this connection Kalousek's [rather ironic] statement he made recently in connection with the Promopro case, in which hundreds of millions of crowns got lost during the Czech EU presidency 2009 when Vondra was in charge of the presidency's organisation.
"I really do not think that Minister Vondra stole something for himself. But he allowed a half of the (presidency) budget to be stolen away from below his bottom. If this is qualification for the continuation of his ministerial career, then I think I know where we could make cuts," Kalousek said.
Copyright 2011 by the Czech News Agency (?TK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ?TK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor and Monitor CE are not responsible for its content.