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Bulgaria to Maintain Defense Spending (Nov 22)

The expenditure on defence, laid down in draft budget 2006, amounts to BGN 1,164 million, or 2.6% of the GDP. The budget fulfils the commitments made by the government in relation to the country’s full membership in NATO to the effect that in macroeconomic terms, the expenditure on defence should be kept in medium-term aspect at levels of 2.6% of the GDP.

This was announced by Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev in his question time at the National Assembly. The Prime Minister said that Bulgaria ranked fifth according to military expenses among NATO member states.

The Prime Minister denied that there had been discord between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Defence on the modernization of the Bulgarian armed forces. The cabinet, the Prime Minister pointed out, involved actively the Ministry of Economy and Energy in the discussion about the modernization.

The modernization of Bulgaria’s armed forces will be carried out gradually by 2015, based on the government’s plan for the priority projects in the area, added Stanishev and reminded that the modernization plan was discussed by the Defence Committee at the previous parliament.

The Prime Minister pointed out that at the very beginning of its term of office, the cabinet requested information on the implementation of the plan for the priorities in the modernization. Part of the procedures for the choice of contractors of special public procurement are carried out. A joint defence committee will coordinate the solutions to all issues concerning the offset policy and the efficient application of compensatory instruments. The committee analyses the situation, using international experience in the field and the practices in Central and Eastern Europe, in particular.

The interministerial group will put forward and enforce efficient measures to improve the coordination in decision-making, when it comes to the comprehensive development of the Bulgarian economy, having immediate effect of the GDP growth, the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev also informed the MPs that the Minister of Economy and Energy had working meetings with representatives of Eurocopter, Daimler Chrysler, Swedish Saab and Gripen, as well as with US Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and SAIC.

The French company Eurocopter has offered perfect implementation projects within the framework of the indirect offset, including investments in the chemical industry, the production of aluminum export products, know-how, export of machinery, tools and industrial equipment as well as software development, the production of IT products and the export-related marketing activity.

The French company and Bulgaria signed a bilateral protocol.

The authorities have discussed the offer of Daimler Chrysler for indirect offset in relation to the future contract of the Ministry of Defence for the delivery of vehicle equipment.

Cabinet Will Extend and Strengthen the Economic Perspectives of the Modernisation of the Bulgarian Armed Forces