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SP: ‘State Auditors should cost Afghanistan intervention'

26 March 2010

SP: ‘State Auditors should cost Afghanistan intervention'

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel wants the 'Algemene Rekenkamer', the Dutch state's own auditors, to launch an enquiry into the total costs of the Netherlands' military intervention in Afghanistan. Included in these costs, the SP spokesman on foreign affairs says, should be the preparations which began in the spring of 2006 as well as the whole cost of the final withdrawal now under way. Van Bommel sees it as unacceptable that the withdrawal of soldiers and materiél from Afghanistan and the dismantling of the bases in the region of Uruzgan where the Dutch military was active has turned out to cost € 115 million more than the sum reserved to cover it. He is also concerned about plans to extend the military presence on the pretext of organising the withdrawal.

Harry van Bommel"This is the third time that the costs have turned out to be much higher," Van Bommel notes. "The Defence Minister has not got these costs under control and can also apparently not handle the logistical planning involved. He has known for some time that the soldiers would have to come home by the end of this year. Evidently the Defence Minister, Eimert Van Middelkoop, isn't up to the job."

In 2006 the costs of the Uruzgan mission totalled €380 million. Later these rose to €580 million. In 2008 it was decided that the mission would be extended by two years and that a further €580 million would be made available, a sum which did not include the high costs of aftercare or the loss of two Chinook helicopters, an F16 fighter plane and an Apache battle helicopter, which in total adds a further €100 million.

In order to establish just where the fault lies, Van Bommel is calling for an enquiry into the total costs of the mission to be conducted by the state auditors, the 'Algemene Rekenkamer'. “The Rekenkamer published in 1997 a highly critical report on the costs of peacekeeping operations. Its conclusion was that the Defence Ministry had 'insufficient understanding' of the total level of real expenditure in relation to such operations. Apparently, not much has changed.”

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