Latviski English По-русски
Saturday 19.08.2017 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta

Latvia's defence budget has been growing only on paper

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe country’s allegedly growing budget has only been like that on paper over the course of the past several years. In reality, however, the highest point of Latvia’s defence budget – 1.6% of the country’s GDP – was reached in 2008. It was achieved by including millions of expenses that were not directly related to defence in any way.

Publishing of literary works and other tasks unrelated to the defence sector were funded as part of the defence budget, as reported by De facto programme of LTV.

Since Latvia’s joining of NATO, the country’s defence budget has grown from EUR 133 million to EUR 370 million over the last decade. The current defence budget is EUR 225 million, which is 0.91% of GDP.

However, there would be a different percentage division if certain defence budget expenses were to be revealed. Up until 2009, some officials tried to add anything that can be associated with this sector to the budget expenses. For example – the bridge over Gauja River in Ādaži. This undertaking cost EUR 3.7 million (EUR 2.6 million from the Defence budget). In reality, however, the only relation this project had with defence sector is that it connected with Ādaži base.

Hundreds of thousands were used to fund official visits of the State President, millions for the Constitution Protection Bureau, the financing of guards of the Bank of Latvia, the border guard – these are only some of the positions included in the defence budget to make it seem bigger proportionally.

Even more money was used in 2008 for monument restoration, construction of a radio-telescope at Ventspils University College and financial support for the publication of Imants Ziedonis’ book.

Latvia’s defence budget has special relations with sports. With blessing from politicians, funds from the defence budget were used to generously finance sports federations and private sports clubs, some of them were even provided as much as EUR 1 million per year. Due to the crisis, this financial flow was stopped in 2009.

In parallel to all this, Defence Ministry financially supported the construction of 52 sports objects and restoration. What is curious about this particular financial endeavour is that the sports hall of Ādaži base – which is visited by Latvian soldiers most often – is not restored to this day. A big part of Latvia’s army in Aluksne remained outside of priorities of the defence budget as well. This was the political agenda then, says then the state secretary to Defence Ministry Janis Sarts.

However, Latvian politicians were not the only ones with a rather general interpretation of defence expenses. For example, France had integrated its gendarmery into defence positions. With that, comparisons of defence expenses up until 2008 are hard to compare. ‘Up until a certain point in time we were able to use the old [NATO] definition to prove how everything [expenses] relates to this definition. I believe it is because of different countries’ frivolous behaviour in adding different unrelated things to their defence budgets that we now have a very narrow definition to explain what we can add and what we cannot,’ – says Sarts.

It has been five years since all of the aforementioned expenses have been subtracted from the defence budget.

Now that the first cries to increase the defence budget have been voiced, the army expects to receive new armoured vehicles and hopes to develop the skills of its special forces. Meanwhile, dozens of well-trained soldiers continue to leave the army. Many seek new jobs because of remuneration. Since 2009, average salaries of soldiers were reduced by EUR 100 – 300 per month. If the budget provides the money, authorities promise to invest in soldiers.

After the events in Ukraine and Crimea, Latvian politicians promise to cultivate the country’s defence budget. For real this time. ‘An increase of up to 2% of GDP (0.2% a year) would be a successful budget growth initiative. If the budget does not end up being developed properly, this initiative should be reconsidered. Empty shouts about allocating 2% for defence budget may end badly for us,’ – says the head of Saeima’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee Ainars Latkovskis.

Chairman of Saeima’s National Security Committee Valdis Zatlers does not allow the possibility of the defence budget not being increased: ‘Our determination is clear. The threat level in the world is high enough not to allow any degree of populism in this.’

‘The greatest threat for the defence budget will arise when we start discussing salary bonuses and soldiers end up outside of it all,’ – believes Commander of Latvian National Forces Raimonds Graube.


Leave a reply

Kirsis asks police to assess possible forging of votes at Riga City Council

Riga City Council’s Unity faction chairman Vilnis Kirsis has asked State Police to check if the city council’s electronic voting system was used without another deputy’s knowledge or consent, said the politician.

Expert: attack in Spain shows how terrorists switched to more easily reachable targets

Terrorist attacks that transpired in Spain this week shows how terrorists have switched to more easily reachable targets, where security requirements are not as strict, says Latvian National Defence Academy’s Security and Strategic Research Centre researcher Martins Hirss.

New mandatory tests in schools to be introduced four years from now

In four years’ time – 2021/2022 school year – it is planned to introduce completely new mandatory tests in schools, as reported by State Education Content Centre Director Guntars Catlaks.

Nearly 9,000 children and their parents got homes thanks to state support programme

In the first half-year of 2017, state support helped 1,527 families in Latvia to buy homes. Compared with last year, families’ demand for state support has grown 6%, as reported by Altum finance institute.

Prediction: Aseradens will likely take control over Unity

Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens will become the head of Unity, Betsafe bookmakers predict. The possibility of Aseradens becoming the head of the party is given 45% probability by Betsafe.

Provisional estimate for next year’s fiscal space in Latvia is EUR 60 million

Next year’s fiscal space has been estimated at EUR 60 million, as noted by Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, adding that a more precise estimate will be available at the end of August.

Reconstruction of Vilnius airport runway concludes; aircraft return to Vilnius

On Thursday, 17 August, Vilnius airport’s runway was festively opened. This was the most massive reconstruction for the airport in the past 20 years. It was a unique project for Lithuania and all of Europe, airport representatives say.

Islamic State terrorist group takes responsibility for Barcelona attack

The recent terrorist attack in Barcelona, in which a shuttle bus rammed a crowd of people on La Rambla, killing 13 and injuring at least 100, has become this week’s topic.

Weather in Latvia to be warm but rainy on weekends

The sun will appear every now and then between clouds on Friday, 18 August. Still, some rain is expected, especially in the afternoon in Latvia’s eastern regions, where thunderstorms may appear. Rain is expected to reach the capital in the afternoon. Wind will draw in from the south. Air temperature will reach +21° C… +26° C, according to State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvia’s export growth was moderately rapid in the first six months of 2017

Compared with the same period of 2016, Latvia experienced a moderately rapid export growth in the first six months of 2017, according to data published by Eurostat on Thursday, 17 August.

Latvia’s annual inflation in July was one of the highest in Europe

Inflation indexes in Latvia and the UK both reached 2.6% in July, which is one of the highest indexes in the European Union, according to data published by Eurostat on Thursday, 17 August.

Kirsis withdraws his candidacy in favour of Aseradens

Riga City Council member Vilnis Kirsis has decided to withdraw his candidacy from the race to become chairman of Unity in favour of a different candidate – Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens.

Rinkevics expresses Latvia’s interest in maintaining political consultations with Palestine

On Thursday, 17 August, Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics met with the leader of Palestine’s diplomatic mission in Latvia, ambassador Taissir Al Adjouri, to discuss mutual relations between Latvia and Palestine and the peace process in the Middle East.

Putin grins to the world’s seven billionth baby, Lithuania wary of border incidents

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit this Wednesday to Kaliningrad, the westernmost point of Russia, but the reports about his trip in the Russian enclave and over the border in Lithuania were strikingly different.

Survey: red considered the safest colour for a car

Most Latvian drivers consider red to be the safest colour for a car. The most popular, however, is black, according to results of a survey by Virši-A fuel trader.

airBaltic’s number of carried passengers reaches a record in second consecutive month

Latvian airBaltic airline carried 393,312 passengers in July 2017, which is 21% more than the same period last year. The number of passengers carried by airBaltic remains the highest it has ever been in the airline’s history, BNN was informed by the company.

Brivais vilnis: nearly all fish processing companies are experiencing losses

Currently nearly all fish processing companies in Latvia are experiencing major or minor losses, says Brivais vilnis chairman Arnols Babris.

American helicopters to perform low-altitude flights within Latvia’s airspace

U.S. Air Force Brigade’s Task Force Phoenix helicopters, which are stationed in Latvia as part of Atlantic Resolve operation, will be performing low-altitude flights from 16:00 to 18:00 from Lielvarde to Dobele on Friday, 18 August.

Healthcare Ministry’s state secretary Karlis Ketners may be replaced

Latvian Healthcare Ministry may replace its state secretary Karlis Ketners. It is possible he will be transferred to work at Finance Ministry, as reported by LTV.

Suspects in Europe's insecticide egg scandal before Dutch court

In the Netherlands, two men have been in court in relation to the scandal of eggs containing banned insecticide that has caused an EU-wide health scare and cost millions of euros of damages.

Indian national with fake documents apprehended on Latvian border

An Indian citizen travelling from Moscow on a bus was caught at Terehovo border control point in Latvia for presenting officers a fake EU family member’s resident card. No criminal process was launched. The person returned to the country he was travelling from.

Latvijas dzelzceļš will not have to pay dividends from last year’s profits

The government decided on Wednesday, 16 August, that Latvijas dzelzceļš will not have to pay dividends from last year’s profits, which were EUR 880,998.

Latvian citizenship provided to 103 people

The Cabinet of Ministers has issued an order to provide Latvian citizenship to 103 people through naturalization.

Estonian Inbank's profits reach EUR 5.7 million in six months

Estonian financial services' provided Inbank made a profit of 5.7 million euros in the first half of 2017, which is a 429.4% increase compared to the respective period in 2016.

Agriculture Ministry invites residents to sign up for measures to support fisheries

From 21 August onward, Rural Support Service plans to start accepting applications for projects to receive support from European Maritime and Fisheries Fund’s action plan for development of fisheries in 2014-2020 as part of projects Innovation, Productive Investments in Aquaculture and Fishing and Aquaculture project processing.

Newest comments