Spending on Defense and Security up 17% in 2014

The country’s draft $3.4 billion national budget for 2014 proposes yet another $920 million in new debt to make ends meet, the same amount taken on this year, according to a copy of the spending bill obtained Thursday. The draft budget calls for nearly $400 million—or about 13 percent—more than what the government is spending this year, with large increases on education, defense and security. … Among the lion’s share of recipients, the ministries of Defense and Interior together are in line for a total of $489 million in the draft, a combined 17 percent more than this year, and 14 percent of the country’s entire budget. … It calls for a 37 percent increase for the Social Affairs Ministry to $141 million and a 20 percent increase for the Education Ministry to $335 million. Though the Education Ministry gets the largest share of any single ministry, it still comes in under 2 percent of the country’s $17.2 billion gross domestic product (GDP) for 2014 as projected by the World Bank. That’s well below what teachers’ unions, aid donors and even some ministry officials say it should be. Critics of past budgets have also faulted the government for spending relatively too little on health. The 2014 draft budget calls for only an 8.4 percent increase for the Health Ministry to $244 million. The Ministry of Agriculture will see a 13 percent boost to its budget to almost $40 million. …

Kuch Naren and Zsombor Peter