Thursday, March 13, 2008

War costs skyrocket

The Canadian Press on the escalating costs of the war in Afghanistan:

Tories downplay report of Afghan budget blowout

OTTAWA, March 11 (CP) — The Conservative government scrambled Tuesday to explain a report that the Afghanistan mission will run $1-billion over budget this fiscal year.

The government did not deny the budget blowout for 2007-08 reported in Montreal's La Presse newspaper. It simply warned that the $1-billion was based on preliminary estimates that cannot be confirmed until after the end of the fiscal year later this month. ...

Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act indicate the mission has cost Canadian taxpayers at least $7.5-billion since 2001 — double what was budgeted.

The documents say the mission cost $538-million more than expected over the first six months of the current fiscal year, and is projected to overshoot its budget by another $539-million by March 31. ...

The Defence Department says the projected budget for the Afghanistan mission through 2009 was $4.5-billion, but was adjusted to $5-billion because of the additional equipment purchased to protect soldiers. It says the increase does not count as a cost overrun.

The $5-billion figure, however, is at adds with the $6.3-billion cited by former defence minister Gordon O'Connor in a post-budget hearing last spring before the House of Commons. ... (link)
The Canadian taxpayer isn't the only one reeling from cost increases, as a Guardian report shows:
Treasury to pay extra £2bn for surging cost of war

Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian, March 13 2008

The Treasury will spend "over £2bn more" in the coming financial year to support troops "on the front line" in Iraq and Afghanistan, the chancellor promised yesterday. ...

However, defence officials admitted that the £2bn-plus promised by Darling would not be enough and that the MoD will have to ask for more before Christmas. ...

The cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 now totals about £10bn, according to estimates based on annual official figures from the Treasury and MoD. ... (link)

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