SHAH ALAM: IN my preview of the 2016 budget, I predicted that the Armed Forces will get a very big hit. However, it proved to be a softer blow instead as the allocation for next year was only reduced by some RM400 million.
For 2016, the government has allocated RM17.3 billion for the Armed Forces compared to RM17.7 billion, the amount actually spent this year. The Operating Expenditure (OE) for 2016 is RM13.4 billion, a reduction of some RM700 million from 2015 (RM14.1 billion). The Development Expenditure (DE) is RM3.847 billion, an increase of RM229 million compared to last year allocation of RM3.618 billion.
However I was not wrong about the assets to be procured for the year. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his budget speech presentation stated that among the items to be procured are “the Littoral Combat Ship, A400M, armoured personnel carriers and the VSHORAD system.
Najib said the Armed Forces will also get the latest unmanned airborne system for ISR duties. Industry sources had told Malaysian Defence that the UAS being looked were either more Scaneagles (already operating in ESSCOM) or a new medium range UAV to be locally made or assembled. Apart from this some RM523 million will be allocated to build a new camp for the Army at Felda Sahabat, in Lahad Datu.
Najib said the government will also allocate RM864 million to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for the procurement of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) and patrol boats. This latest allocation will be a boon for MMEA which had long been hobbled by operating among the oldest patrol vessels in the region.
Whether the OPV will be the same one as shown during LIMA 15 is beyond me at the moment.
For internal security and public safety, some RM13.1 billion has been allocated. Among others 500 patrol cars and 500 motorcycles worth RM35 million will be procured. In the meantime, ESSCOM will be allocated some RM26 million for procurement in 2016.
Take note that the overall allocation for the security sector for 2016 is RM31.2 billion. The OE allocation is RM26.9 billion (RM13.457 billion for defence and RM13.447 billion for internal security). The DE expenditure is RM5.196 billion (RM4.295 billion for defence and RM901 million for internal security). The higher figure for defence DE is not explained though it may well include the allocation for MMEA, ESSCOM and MKN which come under the Prime Minister’s Department.
The overall 2016 budget calls for an allocation of RM267.224 billion.
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