French ministry troubled by budget capping law, possible damage to military

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PARIS – The French Ministry of the Armed Forces has vowed to closely monitor the effect a new budget rule may have on multi-year weapons programs following the passage by Parliament of a law to cap spending public.

“The Ministry of the Armed Forces, in particular the DGA (Directorate General of Armament), is a big investor, and the financing of military equipment often requires a multi-year approach,” the ministry told Defense News. “The ministry is very attentive to the question of the amount to be financed and the consequences that this new budgetary rule could have.

The lower house of the National Assembly on Thursday gave a final reading of article 14 of the public finance law, a legislative measure which aims to curb the national deficit.

Parliamentarian François Cornut-Gentille, member of the conservative Republican Party, said he was concerned about the budget measure.

“How do we respond to this budgetary control? he said, referring to a perceived lack of clarity on how the Ministry of the Armed Forces will react to the spending restraint.

Increased financial control further reinforces the importance of the presidency of the Elysee, which has often played the role of arbiter in the financing of disputes between the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Economy and Finance.

“It’s a centralization of democracy,” said Cornut-Gentille, who sits on the National Assembly’s finance committee. Previously, the Defense Ministry had leeway to present a budget for the president’s approval, but now there is “zero leeway,” he added.

The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, previously claimed that Article 14 would pose problems for weapons programs.

“Article 14 of the bill on public finances holds our full attention,” she declared on October 31 to the finance committee of the upper chamber of the Senate. “Its consequences are different for a ministry in which a significant portion of the credit payment is set aside. for investment.

“Managing long-term investments for military equipment will be difficult. “

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General François Lecointre, told the Senate on November 13 that he understood the public finance law sought to better control government spending, but added that a such an effort could harm the army.

“However, the strict application of the funds to be paid seems to me extremely dangerous and counterproductive, even very penalizing, in view of the contractual policy of the ministry”, he declared.

The Article 14 budget cap will apply to € 50 billion (US $ 59 billion) in defense spending, of which € 37 billion is earmarked for the purchase of kits. The National Assembly adopted the measure during a reading on December 15, which closed the legislative procedure on December 21.

The legal measure is an attempt to balance the budget, requiring annual budgetary authorization for programs to match the annual amount of credit payments, which fund the payment of contractors and suppliers.

There are fears that the budget cap may delay the start of production of major weapons programs, as these require significant funding. Research studies could be stretched, as they require lower funding rather than manufacturing contracts, which energize the arms industry and equip services.


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