Presidential office calls on govt to speed up defense spending
Lithuania's presidential office believes the government's planned increase in the defense budget next year is too slow.
During a parliamentary discussion, Živilė Šatūnienė, an advisor to President Dalia Grybauskaitė, said the planned budget does not match the State Defense Council's decision. Led by the president, the Council agreed in March that 2.05 percent GDP should be spent on defense in 2019.
But 2.01 percent GDP are mentioned in the government' submitted budget bill. In absolute figures, the defense budget is set to grow from 873 to 948 million euros next year.
"It's a pity that the future 2019 budget does not match the letter and spirit of the State Defense Council's decision. There's a deficit of 17 million euros to the 2.05 percent, based on the fall estimate. Things are the way they are. I don't know if there could be more will to raise that budget," Šatūnienė told the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense.
In her words, the projections for the three upcoming years raise doubts whether the government plans to reach the objective to bring the defense budget to 2.5 percent GDP by 2030, a rate mentioned in the State Defense Council's agreement and also in the defense agreement by the majority of political parties.
"There are no signs that serious preparations are underway to implement the political parties' agreement to reach at least 2.5 percent GDP by 2030," the presidential advisor said.
In terms of the planned budget, Lithuania is behind Poland and Estonia, Šatūnienė noted.
National Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis also told the parliamentary committee that the government's budget bill does not match the letter of the State Defense Council's decision. He added, however, the discrepancy is down to faster than planned GDP growth, and in absolute figures, national defense funding remains adequate and meets the army's needs.
"A rise of 75 million (…), in our opinion, is an adequate level of funding," the minister said.