Friday, 20 September 2013 - 05:08
JSF, What Now?
The bold decision of Minister Jeanine Hennis and the government to try to finalize the year-long discussions about the JSF, that is, choosing to purchase 37 JSFs, has caused turmoil in the Dutch society. On Tuesday, Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis disclosed the vision of the government on the future of the Dutch Defense. This all had to do with Budget Day, the day that the government proclaims the budget of the new parliamentary year. One of the Defense plans was the purchase of 37 JSFs as replacements for the older F16 jet fighters. In the National Budget this post was also mentioned and put into the books for more than 4.5 billion euro. The JSF - wikimedia Court of Audits While reactions were expected from unsatisfied employees of Defense who would lose their jobs, from pacifist movements or from political parties with differing points of view, the discussion about the decision to purchase Joint Strike Fighters was fueled by the Court of Audits. The Court of Audits (Algemene Rekenkamer) is part of the Central Government, independent of the government, with the task to control if the government spends money according to government policy. On Thursday the Chairman of the Court of Audits, Saskia Stuiveling, came in the news with a statement that ‘the calculations of the government on JSF are incomplete’. In fact, this was only one statement from a validation report on the plans of Defense for the future. That statement of Stuiveling is based, says the report, on the fact that Defense says that they will always have enough jet fighters available for supporting international missions. To have planes available is a requirement of the NATO. According to Stuiveling, the calculation is not complete and that’s why it is not certain whether Defense can always have enough jet fighters free for international missions. Defense does not agree with the Court of Audits on this. Opposition With the ‘hot off the press’ validation report in their hands, the opposition parties SP and D66 immediately attacked the decision of the government to buy the 37 JSFs. But this was actually nothing more than a tweet of Alexander Pechtold (D66) and some remarks of a SP MP. PvdA Among the members of coalition partner PvdA, the issue of the purchase of the JSFs seems to be a hot issue. Many members of the PvdA are opposed to the JSF project. On Saturday the council members will meet in Zwolle to discuss the National Budget. The commotion about the JSFs within the PvdA is so much at this moment that a big part of the meeting will be about the purchase of the JSFs. The party members of Utrecht will submit a motion on Saturday, asking to withdraw the JSF project. The party members of Leiden will ask the council on Saturday to organize a special party conference on the subject because, according to them, the Labour Group in the House has given up all resistance against the JSF project. The PvdA Group of the House will meet on Friday, prior to the meeting in Zwolle, to prepare for the discussions about the JSF project. PvdA leader Diederik Samsom denies that the group in the House has already agreed on the decision of the government. “It is very bad that in the media it is stated that we already agreed on the JSF project. For me the decision is totally open.” (See also earlier this week: Pros and Cons of the 37 JSFs)