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Nov 09, 2023 17:29 EEST
November 9 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's parliament approved on Thursday a projected expenditure of roughly 1.38 billion US dollars (1.3 billion euro) excluding VAT for the purchase of combat equipment for army battalion groups, including 183 US-made Stryker armoured fighting vehicles.
The draft defence expenditure bill was approved in a 134-55 vote with two abstentions in the 240-seat National Assembly, as seen in a live broadcast from parliament.
The contract for the delivery of 183 Stryker armoured vehicles, made by General Dynamics, is valued at 1.2 billion US dollars excluding VAT. Parliament also approved the purchase of specialised trucks for the land forces. Initial deliveries are scheduled for the third quarter of 2025. The bulk of the vehicles is to be supplied over the following two years, at a rate of ten per month, with the deliveries to be completed in the first quarter of 2028, according to the draft decision published by parliament.
In early 2024, the Bulgarian defence ministry expects to receive two more project agreements from the U.S. The first, worth 65 million US dollars, is for the acquisition of artillery and small weapons while the second, for 101 million US dollars, covers the purchase of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles. The missiles are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.
Bulgaria will pay in installments over a five-year period for the armoured vehicles and weapons, with an option for deferred payments. Additional costs, estimated to be between 20% and 22% of the contract value, will be required to cover VAT charges, customs duties and transportation costs.
The expenditure for the first three years has been factored in the 2024 draft budget and the medium-term budget forecast until 2026, according to the document published by parliament.
In June, the Bulgarian government said that the country will gradually increase its military spending, from 1.88% of the projected 2023 GDP to 2% of GDP next year, which is the minimum target level set by NATO.
Bulgaria's GDP is seen to reach 205.8 billion levs in 2024, according to the autumn macroeconomic forecast published by the finance ministry.
On Wednesday, three oppositions parties filed a no confidence motion against the government over alleged failures in its defence and national security policy.
($ = 0.9338 euro)
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