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Estonia prepared to contribute additional EUR 10 mln to defense field
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    Estonia prepared to contribute additional EUR 10 mln to defense field

    TALLINN, Dec 07, BNS - Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Thursday that should there be a need for it, the Ministry of Finance is prepared to allocated an additional 10 million euros for defense investments, and thus there is no basis for speaking about cutting back on defense expenses in the same amount.

    "The government has made a protocol decision, according to which the Ministry of Finance, if needed, in 2018 will allocate 10 million euros to the Ministry of Defense from the Finance Ministry's reserve of intended use assets to cover the expenses foreseen in the defense investment program," Ratas said.

    He said that talk about 10 million euros going missing somewhere from the defense expenses budget does not stand. "The government coalition has clearly said that we wish to invest an additional 60 million euros in the defense field," Ratas said.

    He added that if the defense minister should say that procurements concerning national defense have progressed faster, then nothing will be delayed because of money.

    Estonian  Defense Minister Juri Luik said that he cannot accept a situation in which the defense budget is becoming an object of political disputes.

    Commenting on the decision to book 10 million euros from the government's reserve for the purchase of ammunition at a government press conference, Luik said that he considers it a "reasonable compromise."

    "If this kind of booking, this compromise helps to eliminate political gridlock, then I believe that it is a reasonable compromise," the minister said.

    Luik said that the defense budget for 2018 is over half a billion euros, thus being the largest during the period of the restoration of independence. "To start saying [in this situation] that we have the smallest defense budget of all time this year, I personally do not understand it," Luik said.

    He said that until now, a "cross-party approach" had been maintained in questions concerning national defense, but now the defense budget has become an object of political disputes.

    "I think that it [the defense budget] was not an object of political disputes when the budget was sent to the parliament. But now it is becoming an object of political disputes. This is unacceptable to me and the whole government," the minister said.

    Politicians of  the ruling coalition have decided not to transfer back into the 2018 state budget the 10 million euros designated for the purchase of ammunition that was moved on to 2019 in the defense investment program, and may book an equal amount of money in the government's contingency reserve to be able to pay for ammunition if a deal can be completed before 2019, the daily Eesti Paevaleht said.

    "We are not going to change the budget to add to it expenditure items which likely will be carried over to 2019," Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder said. "It is not possible to carry out procurements of ammunition in 2018 in such manner that the ammunition is delivered within the same year. There's no need to add 10 million euros to the budget. There's not going to be any need for it," Seeder said.

    Former ministers of defense Margus Tsahkna, of IRL, and Hannes Hanso, of the Social Democratic Party, have been the most vocal opponents of the transfer of the ten million euros to 2019.

    Defense Minister Juri Luik has argued that the money was moved to 2019 because the ammunition to be procured will not be delivered before 2019.

    Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8832, sise@bns.ee

    Baltic News Service

    • Published: 07.12.2017 15:16
    • LETA, BNS
    •  
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