The record spending hike would reverse years of military cutbacks
The Turkish government will more than double its military spending next year, Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz told lawmakers on Tuesday. Türkiye’s flagging economy has hampered its efforts to keep pace with its fellow NATO members.
Unveiled as part of a broader four-year development plan, the proposed military budget for 2024 would see defense spending hiked to 1.13 trillion liras (over $40 billion), compared to around $16 billion this year, Yilmaz said. If passed, the budget would surpass the record set in 2019, when Türkiye spent more than $20 billion on its military, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The country’s military spending has halved since then, and has sat below the 2% of GDP required by NATO since 2020.
Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dramatically strengthened the domestic arms industry in Türkiye, the country remains the world’s 19th-largest arms importer, according to SIPRI figures. With the Turkish economy wracked by persistently high inflation, former Deputy Defense Minister Muhsin Dere admitted in May that Ankara has not been able to afford enough weapons and ammunition for several years.
“God willing, Turkey’s economic situation will be much better, and we will meet the needs of the army from A to Z,” he said at the time.
Yilmaz told parliament that Turkish arms exports will almost double next year, from $6 billion to $11 billion, while the country’s defense industry will be 86% self-sufficient, up from 80% last year.
However, Türkiye’s budget deficit is growing, and reached a shortfall of $4.6 billion in September, after a narrow surplus was recorded in July and August. The government has hiked value-added and petrol taxes in a bid to raise extra money, although these increases alone will not be enough to cover the proposed defense spending hike, according to the Duvar news outlet.
October 19, 2023 at 09:31PM