Prague, July 27 (CTK) – The Czech finance and defence ministers, Ivan Pilny and Martin Stropnicky (both ANO), respectively, have agreed that defence spending will rise to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020, they said after their talks today.

The Finance Ministry originally proposed a slower rise in the medium-term defence spending to 1.18 percent of GDP in 2019 and 1.16 percent of GDP a year later.

At present, the Czech Republic earmarks about 1 percent of GDP for defence a year. However, the coalition government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) promised to secure a rise in defence expenditure to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020 and 2 percent of GDP by 2024.

The NATO member states, including the Czech Republic, pledged to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence, but only few of them meet this commitment. The Czech Republic is in the last third of the allied countries according to the defence expenditure level.

“I really cannot imagine that we would not meet the promise of 1.4 percent of GDP spent on defence in 2020. We are in agreement with the finance minister in this respect,” Stropnicky said.

The Finance Ministry’s draft state budget for 2018 plans that the Defence Ministry’s budget will rise by 5.34 billion crowns to 57.9 billion next year. The Defence Ministry demanded an additional 3.8 billion.

Pilny confirmed that he and Stropnicky had agreed on the rise in military spending to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020.

“However, Minister Stropnicky might not be satisfied with the result for 2017 since there is the limit of the 50-billion-crown deficit,” Pilny said.

The Defence Ministry has been repeatedly criticised for not being able to draw the finances it had at its disposal in time. Consequently, it has failed to complete significant upgrading projects, including the purchases of new military equipment.

Stropnicky dismissed the criticism. He pointed out that the completion of military orders lasted several year in other NATO member states as well.

Last week, when the government approved the purchase of armoured vehicles for 9.2 billion crowns, the biggest military contract during its whole four-year term, Stropnicky said he would not submit any other significant defence purchases before the October 20-21 general election.

($1=22.371 crowns)