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Rwanda - Military Spending

Rwanda’s military spending rose to $94 million from $80 million in 2013/2014, according to Minister for Defence General James Kabarebe’s presentation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and National Budget. But the Rwandan Government conducts two military budgets: an official budget and an unofficial one. The unofficial military budget was funded by the plunder from the Congo – and there is no threshold on this ‘budget’ as such. In a sense, it is therefore nonsense to claim that donors’ ‘conditions’ restricted Rwanda’s military spending; however, it appears that donors to some extend restricted the amount of funds taken from the official budget.

In 1963 the total expenditures for the National Guard and the National Police constituted about 20 percent of the national budget. In 1966, 35 percent of the budget was expended on the security forces, but in 1968 expenditures decreased to 23.3 percent.

Rwanda is to slash military spending and demobilise thousands of soldiers, the authorities announced 23 September 1997. The head of Rwanda's demobilisation committee, Ephraim Kabaija, said it was impossible to maintain the army at present levels. Spending on the army would be reduced from 34 percent of the national budget to 20 percent by the end of 1998. This would entail demobilising 5,000 soldiers in the first phase (running to December 1998) and assisting 12,000 ex-FAR troops and 2,500 child soldiers return to civilian life. In the second phase (running to December 2000), 10,000 soldiers would be demobilised and 28,000 ex-FAR assisted, Kabaija said.

With respect to the official budget only, it is unlikely that the government only spent approximately one fifth of its total budget (or roughly 4% of the GDP in the late 1990s) on its military (as the government and the IMF claims), since civil servants have been made to pay unrecorded shares of the salary as a direct contribution to the Army.

Rwanda military spending as of 2013 was 1.10% GDP. Government budgetary allocations to defense have been steadily going down - dropping by more than 30% between 1998 and 2007, figures from a panel of experts indicated. According to the Swedish Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute - SIPRI - in 1999, government spent $69.7million which has since spiked down to $47.8 million (Rwf 26.3 billion) in the last financial year. The national budget for 2007 was Rwf 242 billion.

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