Budget projections reveal military plans for the next several years.
Croatia will not send troops to Lithuania in 2017, according to the budget proposed for the coming year. In fact, the government projects departure of one army company to the Baltic in 2018, where it will stay for six months, reports Novi List on December 13, 2016.
Croatia has in principle agreed to participate with about 140 soldiers in a NATO battle group which will be deployed in the three Baltic countries and Poland. For this purpose, a little more than 30 million kuna has been allocated. It remains to be seen whether other NATO members will try to persuade the Croatian government to move forward the deployment of the unit.
In 2018, there will be another international mission, which will cost, according to projections, twice as much as the mission to Lithuania. One engineer company is expected to take part in a UN mission. The budget itself does not make it clear which mission it will be, and one gets the impression that the decision has still not been made and that it will be agreed with the United Nations during 2017. For this purpose, the budget projections allocated about 70 million kuna, but the United Nations would subsequently cover part of the costs.
It is interesting that the budget shows that the Croatian Armed Forces have quite an old age structure. Jubilee bonuses are the best indicator of this. In 2017, it is expected that 300 bonuses will be paid for five years of service, 600 bonuses for 10 years, and as many as 1,300 for 20 years of service. We should add that there are 900 members with 25 years of service.
Quite an impressive part of the budget consists of daily allowances and hotel costs which will be spend as part of the international cooperation efforts – a total of 5.4 million kuna. There are costs related to the cooperation between the Ministry of Defence and other countries and NATO, and do not include costs of members of peacekeeping missions.
Although the defence budget for 2017 has been increased by about 300 million kuna compared to 2016, as much as 250 million kuna will go towards payment for costs which were known in advance would hit the Ministry this year. Costs for self-propelled PzH2000 howitzers will increase by 100 million kuna, while additional 100 to 150 million kuna will be spent for the overhaul of ten transport Mi-171 helicopters, which was also an expense known in advance.
Since the actual increase is operating funds is actually around 50 million kuna, some important items have reportedly been cut, such as funding for exercises and training. At the same time, more funds has been secured for the barracks in Petrinja. Defence Minister Damir Krstičević is the sixth minister who is trying to complete this project, proudly called “Barracks of the 21st Century”, but which has instead become a kind of a white elephant.