At today’s press conference, Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska presented detailed information on the defense budget allocations for next year, which, she added, is a defense budget of a member country of the most powerful military – political alliance of today, NATO.
“The amount of defense budgets is on the rise in the last three years, and in 2020 it has doubled compared to 2017. This shows that we have succeeded in a relatively short period of time to increase funding from under one percent to 14 percent of GDP in 2020 and in this way we can strengthen our army and restore its dignity” the Minister said. Shekerinska added that the increase of 22 percent compared to 2019 is intended for the defense reform, for qualitative and quantitative increase of the personnel, for equipping the Army in accordance with NATO standards and improving the working conditions.
The key change in the budget, the Minister underlined, is in terms of capital expenditures, i.e. modernization, for which for the first time in 2020, 20 percent of the defense budget is allocated , an increase of 56 percent in the funds allocated for new Army equipment.
“A multiyear contract is under way, it is the multiyear contract for funding the procurement of engineering equipment, of which one portion has already been delivered, the second major project is the procurement of combat vehicles which is priority number one according to the Long-Term Defense Capabilities Development Plan, communications systems equipment and cyber defense equipment and other priority equipment provided for in the Long-Term Plan. The focus is on the declared units, the focus is on the modernization of the army and investments in equipment” the Minister stated.
Shekerinska stressed that the development, attraction and retention of defense personnel is a priority for the Ministry, which is evident in the increase of salaries by 16 percent, the monthly allowance of MKD 7,000 for each member of the Army that meets the legal requirements.
“If a professional soldier received 20,000 Denars monthly salary in 2017 with the election of the new government that amount was increased by 16 percent, and together with the monthly rent which is in the amount of 7 000 denars, that soldier will now receive 30 200 Denars, which is virtually 50 percent increase in monthly income” she added. It is 120 000 Denars more in the annual family budget, i.e. an income of 40 000 Denars or 160,000 per year more in the family budget for the higher ranks.
There is an increase in logistic support as well, more education, training and exercises, and an increase in the compensation that the participants in peacekeeping missions receive.
A significant portion of the 2020 defense budget is allocated for the reconstruction of the facilities of the Army – the facilities in Kumanovo barracks intended for the headquarters of the Southeast Europe Brigade, the facilities in Ilinden barracks in Skopje, the access point for NATO – classified information, the facilities at the Military Academy.
“The army will enter NATO with salaries increased by 16 percent, with additional income per month, with new equipment, personal equipment, but also machinery-type equipment with a continuous focus of the state on each and every our soldier and officer as they deserve” Minister Shekerinska concluded and added that this money is intended for the Army, for the welfare of all army members, and for safe, secure and economically prosperous country.