Defense budget moves closer to 2% of GDP mark

The Latvian defense budget next year is planned at €449 million or 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the Defense Ministry said, the LETA news agency reported October 15.

The defense budget for 2016 is €367.86 million which is equal to 1.41 percent of GDP.

In 2017 the defense budget will be used to continue the projects started in previous years, most notably the purchase of renovated military vehicles from the United Kingdom for the Infantry Brigade of the Latvian National Armed Forces and development of reconnaissance and air defense capacities.

The defense sector will receive additional €126,000 next year for a new priority, namely, the pay increases for low-paid personnel.

In 2015 the Latvian government undertook to keep increasing the defense budget so that it would be at 1.4% of GDP in 2016, at 1.7% of GDP in 2017 and at 2% of GDP in 2018 and the following years.

2% of GDP is the recommended NATO minimum level of defense spending for member states, though currently only a handful of members spend that much on defense.

As reported, the government approved Latvia's draft 2017 budget on October 13, with revenues projected at €8.066 billion and expenditures at €8.367 billion.

The draft national budget was submitted to the parliament for approval on October 14 and will be debated and approved in coming weeks.

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