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Bulgaria lifts 2019 budget deficit target to finance F-16 purchase

Author Mario Tanev
Bulgaria lifts 2019 budget deficit target to finance F-16 purchase Author: Lockheed Martin; License: All rights reserved.

SOFIA (Bulgaria), July 15 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's government said on Monday that it has approved a 1.829 billion levs ($1.054 billion/935.2 million euro) increase in the deficit targeted by the 2019 budget, to 2.228 billion levs.

The change reflects the recent deal with the US for purchase of F-16 fighter jets and a cut in planned expenses for other projects for modernisation of the capabilities of Bulgaria's armed forces, the government said in a statement on Monday.

Bulgaria will allocate some 2.1 billion levs to the defence ministry's budget for the F-16 purchase project and will cut 271 million levs in planned expenses for other military acquisitions.

Finance minister Vladislav Goranov said on Friday that he will propose to the government on Monday to raise the deficit target in the 2019 budget to 2.0% of the projected GDP from 0.5%, in order to finance the purchase of F-16s.

Changes to the budget do not affect the government's borrowing plans.

Last week, the government approved four draft agreements with the US worth a total of $1.256 billion, for the purchase of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets, delivery of munitions for the jets, Sidewinder AIM 9Х Block II missiles, and a multifunctional information distribution system joint tactical radio system (MIDS JTRS).

The US will deliver six single-seat F-16 jets and two two-seat aircraft primarily used for training. The purchase price will be paid in one go.

Last year, Bulgaria's request for proposals for delivery of up to 16 jets to replace the ageing fleet of Russian-made combat aircraft attracted offers from the U.S., Sweden and Italy. The U.S. offered to supply new F-16 or F-18 jets, Saab offered to supply new Gripen C/D fighters, while Italy offered used Eurofighter aircraft.

($ = 0.8884 euro)