The Armed Forces Budget

Image: Polina Tankilevitch


Increasing the FFAA budget by 70% over the next three years with the maintenance of current vices and deviations is unjustifiable

The demand from the uniformed leaders and Defense Minister José Múcio Monteiro for an increase in the Armed Forces budget obliges the government, Congress and civil society to start discussing the country's military spending in light of the profile of the Armed Forces needed to Brazil in the third decade of the XNUMXst century.

Minister José Múcio Monteiro declared that “today we spend 1,3% of our GDP on investments in the Armed Forces [...], and we are preparing a joint proposal with the three commanders to first present a budget of 1,5% [of GDP ], after 1,8%, after 2%, which is the number recommended by NATO”.

The claim for a 70% increase in the Armed Forces budget over the next three years while maintaining the current vices and deviations is unjustifiable and deeply mistaken.

The uniform represents an extremely high burden borne by the Brazilian people in the national budget. In addition to being high, such expenses are very misused – and not only due to corruption with overpriced purchases, deviations, acquisition of boutique meats, noble and luxury items and all sorts of perks.

The uniformed classes enjoy numerous privileges, advantages and favors that were greatly expanded during the period of the fascist-military government presided over by Jair Bolsonaro - differentiated salary increases, immoral retirements and pensions, indecent advantages and a career boosted with unjustifiable promotions, as recently reported by the press. on R$ 770 received by the current commander of the Army, General Tomás Miguel Paiva.

In 2022, of the BRL 106 billion budget executed by the Ministry of Defense, BRL 87,4 billion, 82,4% of the total, went only to pay personnel. The R$ 87,4 billion spent on personnel and social charges by the Ministry of Defense, which includes expenses for the Army, Navy and Air Force, represent the highest expenditure on personnel in the entire Federal Budget. In second place, far behind, comes the Ministry of Education, with BRL 67,2 billion.

However, of the total amount of personnel expenses [BRL 87,4 billion] of the Ministry of Defense, only a minority portion [BRL 33,3 billion] was allocated to pay active-duty military personnel. The biggest part – R$54,1 billion, 61,9% of the total – went to pay inactive people: R$29,6 billion for retirees and R$24,5 for military pensioners; mostly daughters of soldiers.

In 2022, the Union spent R$ 127,8 billion to pay retirement and pensions to all civil and military public servants in the Union, with R$ 54,1 billion being spent on the military alone, equivalent to 42,3% of such general expenditure by the National Treasury.

Payments to military daughters – 144.607 privileged recipients of lifetime pensions – represent the largest share of military pensions paid, well above widows/spouses, who total 64.050.

Comparison with pensions paid to civilians reveals an abyss of distance. Of the 288.160 pensions paid by the Treasury to civilians, the vast majority [184.600] are paid to spouses, with minor children representing 96.544 beneficiaries who receive a transitional pension, up to the age of 24, if they are university students.

In the case of military daughters, in addition to life, the pension has extravagantly high values. In this universe of pensioners who receive a lifetime pension are not only the daughters, but also the granddaughters, daughters-in-law and nieces of generals and dictatorship officials.

The case of granddaughter of the dictator Ernesto Garrastazu Médici draws attention to the ingenuity employed by the military to maintain their scandalous privileges for all eternity. A few months before he died, Garrastazu Médici adopted his granddaughter Claudia Candal, 21 years old, as a daughter, whose parents were still alive, so that after the death of his wife, which occurred in 2003, the granddaughter would then be awarded a pension lifetime than in January 2023 was BRL 35.580,30.

While practically the entire Brazilian military budget is directed towards paying salaries, retirement benefits, pensions, perks, luxury purchases and perks for the military family, the level of investment by the Armed Forces was only BRL 5,0 billion in 2022, which corresponds to to 4,8% of the Ministry of Defense's budget.

It is a contradictory reality with the permanent demand of the uniformed leaderships, who call for an increase in the military budget supposedly to make investments in the area possible, but in practice such budget increase is appropriated for corporate purposes and far from republican.

On the other hand, attention is also drawn to expenses of the Armed Forces abroad, wrapped in a secret budget. In 2022, R$ 3,9 billion was spent on Brazilian military participation in programs that were at least controversial and surrounded by a cloud of opacity and obscurantism.

Society cannot continue to accept separate management and without public scrutiny of the Brazilian military budget.

The discussion on the Armed Forces budget must be carried out in light of the fundamental needs of the Army, Navy and Air Force to respond efficiently to the protection of sovereignty and national defense. The definition of military priorities and the national defense strategy cannot be delegated to the military themselves, as these are, essentially, attributions of civil society through the Executive and Legislative powers, with broad participation of academics, researchers and civilian specialists in the matter military.

Professor Manuel Domingos Neto has defended the holding of a National Defense Conference as an institutional framework for the country to move forward in this strategic discussion.

The 8th of January created a historic opportunity for Brazilian civil society to face the military issue and definitively remove the delusion about the absurd role of the Armed Forces as a Moderating Power and in the protection of democracy.

*Jeferson Miola, is a journalist. She is part of the Porto Alegre Institute of Debates, Studies and Alternatives (Idea) and was executive coordinator of the 5th World Social Forum.

Originally published on the portal Brazil 247.

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