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Anyone think that seeing as the oil corporations and big business are going to make the most money out of the invasion of Iraq they should be paying the occupation costs? Imagine what this extra 5 million a day would do if it was poured into health. You could improve the lives of thousands at a stroke. Instead our tax money is being pissed away to increase big buisness profit levels. Same as it ever was?
Cost of occupation: ?5m a day - human cost extra
Up to ?150m a month to keep troops in Iraq adds to strains on government
Richard Norton-Taylor and Larry Elliott
Thursday July 17, 2003
The cost to British taxpayers of invading and occupying Iraq will be far in excess of ?5bn, with ?1bn being spent even before the first shot was fired, defence sources said yesterday.
This far exceeds the size of the special "war chest" which the Treasury has offered.
With the government already budgeting for a ?27bn deficit this year, some estimates put the cost of maintaining 11,000 troops in Iraq and the Gulf region at about ?150m a month.
That would put the post-war cost of keeping troops in the region for two years - the absolute minimum according to defence thinking - at ?3.6bn.
The total estimated pre- and post-war costs - ?4.6bn - do not include the expense of the fighting itself, defence sources admitted, and will put added strain on the public finances in the run-up to the next election, when Labour was hoping to use any spare cash to top up spending on schools and hospitals.
Treasury sources hinted last night that they understood the financial pressures on the MoD but confirmed that any spending on Iraq in excess of the ?3bn set aside by the chancellor, Gordon Brown, would have to come out of the Treasury's reserve. This is a modest "rainy day" fund, worth ?6bn over the next three years, which allows the government to finance emergencies or its priority areas without having to borrow more or raise taxes.
However, the latest figures from the MoD suggest that a prolonged commitment in Iraq could be a drain on scarce resources at a time when the government is under mounting pressure to prove that public services are improving.
Defence sources said the cost of the six-week war, including ammunition, lost equipment, accidents and fuel, had yet to be calculated.
About ?1bn was spent deploying weapons systems and troops to Kuwait and aircraft to the Gulf, and "desertifying" Challenger battle tanks before operations had even started, a defence official said.
The Treasury puts the cost of keeping Britain's forces in post-war Iraq at a slightly more conservative ?120m a month - around half what the United States is spending.
A Treasury spokesman said that the MoD was "some way away" from using up the rest of the special reserve and that so far there had been no requests to the Treasury for extra cash.
"If the MoD does come and ask for access to the reserve, we will consider that at the time," he said. "But we are not in that territory yet."
The spokesman said that the extensive overseas commitments of the armed forces in recent years meant that it was necessary for the MoD to receive ?3bn for the Iraq campaign, and that long-term peacekeeping and reconstruction costs would feature in next year's comprehensive spending review, covering government spending in the three years from 2005/06.
The defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, told MPs yesterday that the government remained "committed to maintaining appropriate forces in Iraq for as long as necessary and no longer".
Defence sources admitted that the presence of British troops in Iraq was open-ended and they could be there at present levels in four years' time.
In addition, the MoD was allocated ?300m for immediate humanitarian aid. The Department for International Development has earmarked ?270m in aid for Iraq, including ?60m provided by the Treasury.
Before the war, Keith Hartley, professor of economics at York University and an expert in the cost of military operations, estimated that the cost to British taxpayers of a war against Iraq would total at least ?3.5bn, not including occupying and stabilising Iraq after an invasion. "Occupation could be for years," he added.
A senior military source who foresaw British forces in Iraq for a long time told the Guardian: "Conflict is much cheaper than post-conflict."
Unless the Treasury agrees to pay for the extra costs of the Iraqi conflict, the existing defence budget - already squeezed - will come under even more severe pressure. The Treasury is already questioning large procurement projects, including the Eurofighter, now called Typhoon, which was designed in the 1980s with dogfights against Soviet aircraft in mind.
The ?19bn project has been dogged by budget overruns and delays. The first RAF Typhoon squadron is unlikely to enter service until 2005, nine years after the original deadline.
The MoD this week confirmed that the estimated cost of two aircraft carriers planned for the Royal Navy had escalated from ?2.8bn to ?4bn. Under last year's comprehensive spending review, Britain's defence budget will rise from ?29.3bn last year to ?32.8bn in two years' time - an average annual 1.2% growth in real terms. It would be the biggest rise in military spending since the cold war era 20 years ago.
With America's projected budget deficit revised up $150bn on Tuesday, war costs have become an increasingly thorny issue in Washington.
So far, the military campaign in Iraq has cost $48bn, according to Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon comptroller.
The latest Pentagon estimate is that military costs in both Afghanistan and Iraq are running about $5bn a month. Yet budgets beyond this fiscal year do not make any provision for keeping troops in the Gulf or Afghanistan.
Democrats yesterday attempted to make political capital out of the ballooning costs, with Democrat senators calling on the Bush administration to specify precisely the cost of continuing military operations in Iraq.
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