The Lithuanian government has proposed political parties to sign a comprehensive agreement on the country’s defence policy for the next decade.
According to the draft agreement, political parties would take on the commitment to gradually increase defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030, up by 0.5 percentage points from this year’s target of 2 percent. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis plans to discuss the proposed agreement with parties’ leaders next week.
Lithuania’s defence budget
This year Lithuania will allocate 873 million euros for defence. The sum will be slightly greater than two per cent of the national GDP, thus Lithuania will join the relatively small number of NATO members that are fulfilling their commitment to the alliance.
Lithuania will meet its commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense this year even if it will have to spend over 10 million euros additionally due to its faster-than-projected economic growth, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday.
Lithuania came in 9th worldwide in terms of military expenditure growth last year, a Swedish institute said.
Over fifth of people in Lithuania live below poverty line
Around 650,000 people, or 22.9 percent, lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in Lithuania last year, up 1 percentage point, the latest figures from Statistics Lithuania show.
In order to reduce the number of people living below the poverty threshold, first of all, the share of the GDP distributable via the state budget should be increased and more money should go to social policies aimed at the poorest residents, the expert believes.
The poverty line stood at 307 euros a month per capita or 644 euros a month for a family of two adults and two children under 14.
Harmonized annual inflation in Lithuania was one of the highest among EU member states in June, new figures from Eurostat show.
It stood at 2.6 percent in Lithuania and was 2.7 percent in Latvia and 3.9 percent in Estonia.
The highest annual inflation rate was in Romania and stood at 4.7 percent.
The situation worsens. For this reason 24,387 permanent residents emigrated from Lithuania in January-July, according to preliminary figures from Statistics Lithuania.
Defense against social needs
The Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) is unlikely to support the government’s proposed agreement on the country’s defense policy for the next decade, but other parliamentary parties are inclined to back such a deal.
Meanwhile, Valdemaras Tomaševskis, the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles- the Union of Christian Families, maintained that the party would support such an agreement if 2.5 per cent of the military spending go for Lithuanian military industry.
«If we invest the money in Lithuania, then we have one story. But if we buy weapons from other countries, thus contributing to their economies, then such agreement raises doubts,» the Poles‘ leader said.
Security challenges come not only from primary military threats, but also from a spectrum of social challenges.
Perhaps political parties should to think how to improve welfare of Lithuanian citizens.
By the way Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said political parties are acting “not nice and irresponsibly” by trying to play defense needs off against social needs.