The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) has issued a statement aiming to set straight media reports that it has not spent billions of dollars set aside for it during the last budget year.

News agency The Canadian Press reported that data on quarterly expenditure showed that by the end of the last fiscal year in March 2013, the department had spent CAD2.3 billion less than allocated by Parliament, or 10% of the full budget, a trend described as deficit slashing by stealth.

In the statement, the DND said that based on current departmental financial information, the unused appropriations in 2012-13 would be less than CAN1.5 billion and the vast majority of unused appropriations was beyond the department’s control.

It blames the underspend mainly on financial technicalities, such as, "requirements to lapse authorities associated with decisions that flowed from the deficit reduction action plan which were announced after the Main Estimates were tabled," and accounting rule changes including, "rescheduling of a payment to a foreign government from 2012-13 to 2013-14."

It cites successful procurement plans that proceeded according to plan, such as the acquisition of the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules tactical airlift aircraft, but admits sometimes plans change over time driven by internal government and contractor factors.

The statement affirms that it is far more important to ensure the DND is spending money properly and for its assigned purpose than to spend all of the available money for the sake of spending it.

"National Defence remains fully committed to providing the best use for taxpayer dollars," it concludes.

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