America's allies in the Persian Gulf war continue to pay their financial pledges, raising the possibility that the United States could actually make a profit on the conflict, congressional budget analysts say.
German Finance Minister Theo Waigel promised Monday that his country's $6.5 billion pledge would be paid soon, as cash continued to roll in toward the $54.5 billion in allied commitments.According to the latest tally, nearly half of that total - $26.6 billion - has been paid. The two largest donors, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are expected to fully pay their pledges, which total more than $16 billion each.
But congressional budget officials, citing the short duration of the war and the unexpectedly low losses in equipment, say the cost of Operation Desert Storm will be closer to $40 billion.
If that figure proves accurate, the government may not need the $15 billion in taxpayer dollars appropriated last week by Congress.
In fact, if a strict standard is used to gauge direct costs of the war, the treasury could wind up with extra money.
There is an agreement that the tab for moving troops and equipment to the gulf and home again should be counted, as well as other costs.
But the White House said Tuesday the cost of the war will far exceed the $54.5 billion pledged by allies.
"They're going to be higher than the amounts that are pledged, there's no question about that," presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.