Subject: TNI Hindered by Small Budget: Juwono

also: US warns China on military build-up

The Jakarta Post Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Small budget hinders military's performance

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Military (TNI) will have to prioritize its major tasks as a recent 15 percent increase to defense budget will still not provide enough money for its minimum requirements.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono told legislators at the House of Representatives that the small defense budget was a chronic problem that had prevented the Defense Ministry and the military from improving their performances this fiscal year.

"The small defense budget is really a major obstacle to reaching the three major targets of improving the operational preparedness of all military units, soldiers' social welfare and soldiers' professionalism," he said in a hearing with the House commission overseeing defense affairs.

Based on the 2005-2009 strategic state defense development program, the Defense Ministry needs at least Rp 74.4 trillion (US$8.04 million) for this fiscal year, but the government has allocated only Rp 32.6 trillion, although this was an increase of 15.6 percent on the 2006 defense budget of Rp 28.2 trillion.

"The defense budget is only 43.8 percent of what is required, 4.2 percent of the 2007 state budget, or 0.92 percent of the gross national product (GNP)," the minister said, adding a greater part of the budget would be spent on paying soldiers, employees and civil servants in the defense sector.

The country's defense budget is still far below those of Singapore and Malaysia, which represent 2 to 4 percent of their GNPs.

Juwono said the Defense Ministry and TNI had no alternative but to give priority to certain programs and functions.

Software design and weaponry technology research will receive funding, in order to support the maintenance of old arms and the procurement of new weapons, along with social welfare programs for soldiers.

On the subject of the planned takeover of military businesses, Juwono said the joint team was expected to finish its work by the end of 2008 and that the military would no longer be involved in business by 2009.

TNI chief Air Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto said the armed forces' arsenal was predominantly out of date, which had prompted the government to procure weaponry through export credit schemes.

"Over the next two year, the TNI will give priority to procuring corvettes, Russian-made Sukhoi jet fighters and Mi-17 and Mi-35 attack choppers, and two unmanned aerial vehicles to help provide a minimum of protection for Indonesian territory," he said.

"We will also focus on enhancing security on the outer islands this fiscal year."

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