Defense Minister Viola Amherd in the defensive battle: this is how the army escaped the austerity hammer

Defense Minister Viola Amherd in the defensive battle: this is how the army escaped the austerity hammer

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The pressure of austerity is also causing problems for the military.
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Ruedi StuderBundeshaus editor

The federal government needs to save. This also puts pressure on the military to contribute. Defense Minister Viola Amherd (61) suffered a setback last year: the increase in army expenditure was slowed down. The goal of diverting one percent of gross domestic product to defense by 2030 has been postponed until 2035. The bottom line is that billions are at stake, and the military budget will be cut by less.

But the austerity measures prescribed by FDP Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter (60) were also almost fatal for the army this year. Various discussion proposals were on the table, according to which the army should not be spared from the austerity hammer. This is evident from documents relating to internal administrative consultation, which are available to Blick under the Public Access Act.

Cutback options for the military

At the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Finance proposed a linear cut of two percent in the weakly committed expenditure for the 2025 budget, which would also have been applied to the Amherd Ministry of Defense. The VBS was threatened with a loss of 131 million francs.

Three variants were proposed for the army. The absence of a cut or a linear savings target only in the areas of operating costs, real estate investments and transfer payments, which would have amounted to 70 million. Or even a savings target of 120 million if the entire army budget is taken into account. “For all variants, limiting the reduction to two to three years should be considered – otherwise the one percent of GDP target will be called into question,” it said.

Finance chief VBS warns: ‘More is not possible’

It is documented that preliminary discussions took place between Amherd and Keller-Sutter in January. Amherd’s VBS stood on its hind legs: “We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the army cannot participate in the linear cuts,” Urs Marti, financial director of the VBS, made clear in the official meeting. He also underlined why: “The military’s liquidity problems over the next three to five years are significant and can be attributed in particular to the fact that last year the military contributed a total of some two billion francs to the health of the federal budget. the years 2024 to 2027. More is not possible.”

However, the VBS resistance was not well received everywhere, as the pressure to save money was placed even more heavily on the other departments. The General Secretariat of SVP Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin (64) called for a general discussion on the development of expenditure from 2025 to 2035 – “including the security zone (army)” – before discussing concrete spasm measures. It is not without reason that the Ministry of Economic Affairs must realize the largest savings.

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In view of the crucial meeting of the Federal Council in mid-February, the interdepartmental working group on the debt brake discussed two variants. A savings target of 1.4 percent for everyone, meaning that the DDPS would have had to forego 63 million – excluding defense spending and limited to two years. The second option was a 1.7 percent cut for everyone except the military. It is clear that the DDPS has again opposed cuts, according to the minutes of the meeting. Several departments also advocated the inclusion of the DDPS, “as this is already a compromise solution.”

A bang saves the army from austerity measures

But a bang saved the army from a round of budget cuts. Shortly before the government’s decision, the military’s financial problems became public, leading to heated discussions in the federal parliament. Almost no one would have understood a savings requirement.

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An accounting trick also took the pressure off. The majority of expenditure for Ukrainian refugees continues to be recorded as extraordinary expenditure, thus bypassing the debt brake. This means that fewer cuts need to be made to the regular budget.

The result: a cut target of 1.4 percent for everyone – except the military. This time Amherd managed to win the defensive battle.

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Source:Blick

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Livingstone

Livingstone

I am Liam Livingstone and I work in a news website. My main job is to write articles for the 24 Instant News. My specialty is covering politics and current affairs, which I'm passionate about. I have worked in this field for more than 5 years now and it's been an amazing journey. With each passing day, my knowledge increases as well as my experience of the world we live in today.

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