NICOSIA - The Head of the House Defence Committee on Monday called on the government to rethink plans to shrink the army budget for 2014.
Speaking to reporters after Monday’s session in parliament, Committee Head Giorgos Varnavas said: “Unfortunately, the financial crisis has affected the defence budget but I still call on the government to reconsider this move.”
The decision to slash the budget for the National Guard has come at a sensitive time with Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou this year pledging to beef up the Republic’s navy forces as offshore drilling continues in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amidst frequent threats from Turkey.
Priority is also set on safeguarding conscripts and personnel. To that effect, outdated ammunition will be disposed while new storage facilities will be built.
Fotiou also sent out a clear message that it was time to modernise what he described as an “out-of-date” armed forces. The minister was present at Monday’s committee session but eased some concerns by telling parliamentarians that “a supplementary budget would be tabled before the House” next year to meet certain needs and that the cabinet “would not stand against such an intervention”.
The defence budget has always been approved at committee level – unlike other budgets that are put before the plenary for approval – due to security concerns.