Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): Sir, MINDEF’s total expenditure of FY 2023 is projected to increase 5.6% for over FY 2022, on top of an 11.3% increase from FY2021 to 2022. In the revenue on expenditure estimates for FY 2023/2024, military expenditure is just a single-lined item with an amount of $17.0 billion, without any further breakdown. MINDEF does explain that operating expenditure includes the payments for the purpose of military equipment, maintenance of equipment and camps, allowances for National Servicemen (NSmen) and salaries of regular servicemen and women.
While I understand the need for military secrecy, can MINDEF minimally provide the estimated expenditure for just these four items. This is a common practice in public budget estimates in other territories, including Taiwan, Latvia and Finland, all of whom face real and existential threats.
I am aware that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) conducts scrutiny of the Government’s expenditure and accounts, including the defence budget. However, does the PAC have access to any breakdown of military expenditure? If not, it will be difficult for the Committee to scrutinise the defence budget, given that military expenditure comprises almost 95% of the Ministry’s total budget.
Sir, I am proud that I served my full-time NS and completed all my operationally-ready NS cycles. I support the need to maintain a strong and credible SAF to effectively defend Singapore. This is why I believe that more thorough scrutiny of MINDEF’s budget and expenditure will help maintain public confidence that the $17.97 billion allocated to the Ministry, the highest among all the Ministries, is going entirely towards achieving its mission.
Ministry of Defence
24 February 2023