We must return the money to the Defence Ministry budget as soon as possible, Lubomír Metnar says
The war in Ukraine and the imminent threat of NATO countries bring with them new demands for changes to the original plans for the modernisation of the Czech Army, but especially the need for more funding for the acquisition programmes of the Ministry of Defence. The neighbouring countries of the Alliance are already announcing dramatic increases in the volume of investments in defence, and the Czech Republic must logically follow the same course. The Czech Army or the Ministry must be able to respond adequately to this new requirement and acquire equipment that will help maintain the capabilities of the Czech Armed Forces at an appropriate level.
We therefore asked the Chairman of the Defence Committee and former Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar three questions during the break of the 16th session of the Chamber of Deputies on the topic of the current discussions on the financing of the Czech Republic's defence:
Mr Chairman, how do you perceive the criticism of the underfunding of the Ministry of Defence during your tenure at the Ministry of Defence?
During my tenure in the Ministry of Defence, modernisation and the purchase of new weapons and equipment has picked up a high pace that has never been seen in the past. After a period of cuts in the defence budget, we have finally started to invest massively in our defence capability. Since my arrival at the Ministry of Defence, more than 43 000 contracts worth CZK 155 billion have been concluded across the Ministry. As a result, soldiers will get the modern equipment they desperately need. Defence spending has grown at its highest ever rate. Since 2013, the budget has increased by 100 percent.
Alliance member states are gradually announcing increases in defence spending. Have the budgets of other neighbouring states been similar? And what should our Government do at this point?
I would like to stress that not only in our country, but throughout the EU, defence budgets have been sacrificed for a long time and need to be stabilised and increased. For each country, this then means strengthening its own strategic autonomy.
In view of the current international security crisis, it is not a good political signal to reduce the budget from 1.4 % to 1.3 % of GDP. Poland wants to increase defence spending to 3 % next year, and Germany will also cross the 2 % of GDP threshold. We should certainly keep up the gradual growth that we proposed under the ANO government.
Is there any way to get more substantial funding into the defence budget?
My amendment to return EUR 4.4 billion to the defence budget was not approved. I would now like to know how the Ministry of Defence intends to proceed with the announced increase in expenditure and whether this will actually happen. We have one last chance this year to return funds to the Ministry of Defence and spend them in a meaningful way.