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Govt Could Afford F-16s

The Government could afford to buy the 28 F-16s if it wanted to, Opposition Finance spokesperson Bill English said today.

"There were no surprises in the defence budget. The Treasury met its legal obligation to open the books fully on defence prior to the election, so the Government can't claim it was surprised.

"I ask the Minister of Finance to confirm whether he has briefed the United States Government fully on our budgeting process, or whether he expects them to rely on the Government's dishonest campaign that it can't afford the F-16s.

"The previous Government allocated over $1 billion for capital expenditure over the next three years. As each new capital investment decision is made the money comes out of that provision. The ongoing costs could be met out of the substantial accrual provisions made by the previous Government and increased by the new Government.

"Money only goes into baselines when there is a decision to complete the purchase of new defence equipment.

"If the Government doesn't want an airforce then it should be honest with New Zealanders, and the United States Government, rather than looking for a financial excuse," Mr English said.

Ends


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