The Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, should adopt a resolution warning of the lack of finances earmarked for the military, its defence committee concluded yesterday.
Its proposed resolution expresses concern about the government allocating less to the military in its draft budget for 2020 than the Defence Ministry conceptual material expects. Senators also want to stress that the ability of and will to defence is a significant feature of a country's sovereignty.
Deputy Chief of Staff Jaromir Zuna points out that the military might be short of billions of crowns in the years to come. The Czech Republic has repeatedly pledged to allocate 2 percent of its GDP to defence by 2024. At present, it gives some 1.2 percent of GDP or 66.7 billion crowns to defence.
Though the Defence Ministry budget has been rising year-on-year, its rise is not sufficiently fast in view of the low funding in the past, according to experts.
Senators should also openly support the commitment to constantly raise defence expenditures, 20 percent of which should go to investments, the committee said, adding that it would like to ask the government, through the Senate plenary session, to secure the military equipment upgrading according to the set schedules.
"It is high time to fundamentally modernise arms systems and interrupt the continuous dependence on the Soviet ones, to be compatible within NATO, and secure that our soldiers would be able to fulfil their tasks to which the Czech Republic has committed itself as well," Senate defence committee chairman Pavel Fischer said.
In the years to come, the Czech military is to purchase new combat vehicles for the infantry, helicopters and guns for dozens of billions of crowns. The military build-up concept has set the purchases and military development steps.
The period of 2020-2025 is decisive for the fulfilment of the military goals, Zuna said, adding that the military conceptual material reckons with the rise of expenditures to reach 2 percent of GDP.
According to the 2020 draft state budget, the military is to get 74.3 billion crowns, 7.5 billion more than this year. However, the sum is ten-billion-crown lower than last year's budget outlooks. The 2022 budget outlooks plan defence expenditures of 95 billion crowns instead of the originally expected 105 billion crowns.
The 2020 budget and outlooks for the following years are in the phase of drafts only, Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek said. Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar will yet negotiate about the particular budget with Finance Minister Alena Schillerova (both for ANO) next week, he added.
"Our priorities are clear and do not change. It is to reach 2 percent of GDP by 2024," Pejsek told CTK.
Four defence experts, including General Petr Pavel, who was the chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018, and former Czech ambassador to Russian and the USA Petr Kolar, warned of the insufficient defence budget outlooks until 2022 in an analysis a month ago. By its draft budget, the government denies its pledges as neither the military development goals. nor the NATO commitments would be fulfilled, they said.