Thursday, July 28, 2011

Eleven weeks' borrowing

Considering that HMG is borrowing on average something like £3 billion a week, just to keep up with current expenditure, it is a little hard to get too excited about the estimated cost of £4,025.6 million to maintain our operation in Afghanistan for the current financial year.

But that is the figure the Defence Committee has published, with the proviso that it may run to £4.4 billion, or even more. And that, of course, is not the total cost – merely the additional sum needed to support the operation, over and above that of maintaining the units involved at their normal state of readiness.

The additional billions, according to The Guardian, bring the cost of the Afghani operation to £18 billion, met from the Treasury reserve.

That figure does not include what the defence committee describes as "additional costs in terms of training opportunities cancelled or deferred and equipment wear and tear that will eventually have to be met" – and nor does it take account of the probability that, had they not been chasing ragheads around the countryside, Dave could have made the soldiers redundant and sold their toys off for scrap.

So far, Dave and his merry men have written off about some £12 billion-worth of kit, including the Nimrods, the Harriers, the Navy's type 22 frigates, and sundry other goodies.

However, that still leaves £33.8 billion to find for the core defence budget for 2011–12; £34.4 billion for 2012–13; £34.1 billion for 2013–14; and £33.5 billion for 2014–15, much of which could be saved if Dave got rid of the armed forces altogether, cutting about eleven weeks' worth of the borrowing requirement each year – plus just over a week for Afghanistan and Libya.

One really gets the impression that Our Dave isn't really trying hard enough.