WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Friday he had cancelled plans for a Veterans Day military parade, citing the “ridiculously high” price tag a day after US officials said the November event could cost $92 million, more than three times the price first suggested by the White House.
Trump on Twitter accused local Washington, DC, politicians of price-gouging. But preliminary estimates from the Pentagon showed that more than half the price tag would come from military aircraft, equipment, personnel and other support. The remainder would be borne by other agencies and largely involve security costs.
The Defence Department had announced on Thursday there would be no parade in 2018. Trump tweeted that perhaps something could be scheduled next year when the price “comes WAY DOWN.”
He did not explain how the costs would be reduced.
Trump said he would instead attend an event at Andrews Air Force Base on another day and travel to Paris for Nov 11 events marking the centennial of the end of fighting in World War I.
The president added: “Now we can buy some more jet fighters!” He did not offer additional details.
Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the military and the White House had “agreed to explore opportunities in 2019,” an announcement that came several hours after reports about the projected parade price tag.
It was reported that the parade would cost about $92 million, according to US officials citing preliminary estimates more than three times the price first suggested by the White House.Officials said the parade plans had not yet been approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Mattis himself said late on Thursday that he had seen no such estimate and questioned the media reports.
The Pentagon chief told reporters travelling with him to Bogota, Colombia, that whoever leaked the number to the press was “probably smoking something that is legal in my state but not in most” a reference to his home state of Washington, where marijuana use is legal.
Mattis, who spoke before the announcement that the parade would not happen in 2018, added: “I’m not dignifying that number ($92 million) with a reply. I would discount that, and anybody who said (that number), I’ll almost guarantee you one thing: They probably said, ‘I need to stay anonymous.’ No kidding, because you look like an idiot. And No. 2, whoever wrote it needs to get better sources. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2018