Prague, June 20 (CTK) – The Czech Republic should set the volume of its defence spending by law so that no government could cut this spending, Czech Defence and Security Industry Association (DSIA) head Jiri Hynek told the Zofin Forum on defence and security today.

He said this has been done in Poland.

Hynek said Czech governments always found a reason to reduce the defence budget.

When the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, it pledged to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP. This year, the country will spend 52.5 billion crowns on defence, or 1.08 percent of GDP.

Hynek said this is the level that was achieved in 2003.

In 2016, 1.01 percent of GDP was spent on defence.

Deputy Defence Minister Tomas Kuchta said it would be more practical to set a sum that must be spent rather than a portion of GDP, which might steeply rise or fall.

Kuchta said the country should create a defence fund similar to the existing transport infrastructure fund.

He said the Czech Republic would be considered a reliable ally only if it met its promises.

The current centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) pledged to increase the defence spending to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020 and to 2 percent of GDP around 2025. However, the draft state budget for next year and the budgetary outlook for 2019-2020 does not include such an increase in defence spending.

Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar said the Czech military expects these pledges to be met. The military will need tens of billions of crowns for the upgrading of its equipment, Becvar said.

The opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) submitted a bill guaranteeing an annual increase in the defence budget by 0.2 percent of GDP to the lower house of Czech parliament. Once the defence spending reaches 2 percent of GDP, this level should be maintained, according to the ODS.

($1=23.369 crowns)

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