Lithuanian parliament passes 2018 budget with 2 pct defense spending

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-13 02:36:24|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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VILNIUS, Dec.12 (Xinhua) -- The Lithuanian parliament passed on Tuesday the law of state budget for 2018 which increases defense spending to 2 percent of GDP for the first time in the Baltic state's history.

Lithuania's government currently working as a minority one managed to gather more than half of the parliament's support in a final vote for the state budget. A total of 84 MPs voted in favor of the budget, 29 against, 15 abstained.

Next year, Lithuania's state budget will amount to almost 9.6 billion euros and will remain with deficit of around 0.5 billion euros.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said the budget reflects the cabinet's main policy priorities, naming "reduction of wealth inequality, attention to social security, promotion of investment and entrepreneurship and increase in defense spending".

Next year, Lithuania's defense spending will amount to 873 million euros, 20.6 percent more compared to this year's defense budget.

"It is the first time in history Lithuania would meet its commitments to NATO allocating 2 percent of GDP to national defense," the Lithuanian Finance Ministry noted in a statement.

The state budget sparked tensions between the prime minister and the country's president Dalia Grybauskaite.

Before the final vote, Grybauskaite criticized that during the first year in office the government led by Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVZS) lacked strategic direction while promised reforms were replaced with "minor changes".

"The first year of LVZS's rule were marked with uncertainty, fading people's expectations and scattered support," Grybauskaite said in an interview to daily newspaper Lietuvos zinios.

Skvernelis reacted that reforms are to be implemented in three years and should be evaluated only afterwards. (1 euro = 1.17 U.S. dollars)