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Bolivia - Military Spending

Data on the Bolivian defense budgets varied widely in the late 1980s. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the 1988 defense budget was US$87 million. According to the United States government's The World Factbook, 1989, however, the military budget in 1988 was US$158.6 million. These figures were considerably higher than press reports that the defense budget fell from US$130 million in 1985 to US$94 million in 1986 but rose to roughly US$100 million in 1988.

Despite a warning by the FF.AA. commander that a cut in the 1988 funds would endanger Bolivian security and sovereignty, the Paz Estenssoro government reportedly earmarked only about US$98 million for the 1988 military budget. After meeting with the FF.AA. commander in July 1988, however, Paz Estenssoro ordered the minister of finance to give priority to the armed forces budget. The minister of national defense subsequently reported that the problem of military budget cuts had been overcome, mainly as a result of US$5 million in aid provided by the United States, and that FF.AA. personnel had received salary increases.

Evo Morales came in to office in 2005 and in spite of only a slight increase the defence budget the following year, it increased substantially in subsequent years. The Bolivian armed forces have 70,000 people on the pay-roll, compared to 9,000 in neighboring Paraguay.

The amount of money spent on defence is contradictory to what the government says, because they refer to themselves as a government of the people, working to solve their problems, even though defense has more money assigned that social welfare and human development areas. In 2001 defense takes up the largest amount of the total of the money distributed by the government, 26% according to economy ministry figures. Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra said that the increase in defence spending is due to an increase in administrative personnel and salary increases assigned by President Evo Morales during the last five years. State resources pay for some 70,000 military personnel across the country, who have to be fed and clothed and electricity, water, telephones and other services have to be paid in all the military units, of which there are more than two hundred.

Economist Alberto Bonadona said the defence budget priorities, makes one think that the government will use the support of the military and police to benefit themselves. According to the report education receives only 3% of the governments budget, nine times less than defence and a 15.9% drop in ten years. Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra said that Bolivian security is a permanent matter and that the money spent on defence is an investment to guarantee sovereignty, independence and development.

In 2011 the Bolivian government purchased six Chinese K-B fighter planes for U$ 58 million. The head of the Air Force General Tito Gandarillas said that the aircraft will last for fifteen or twenty years and are capable of intercepting other aircraft. China has also given Bolivia 10,000 AK-47 assault rifles worth 60 million dollars. The government was currently negotiating with Russia over a loan of U$ 300 million to purchase military material, in principal six MS-7 helicopters, the modernisation of general military equipment and the possibility of acquiring missiles.

On 24 April 2012 the Minister of defence, Rubn Saavedra, reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to transparent management of public management information and stressed the importance of accountability that are public institutions. Before representatives of various organizations, Saavedra said that public hearings are important so that the "social control, demands results and if the case is, demand sanctions".

The Ministry of Defense explained that the budget for this year amounts to 1.801.635 Bolivians. "The budget of the Ministry of defence to manage 2012, coming from the General Treasury of the nation, reaches 1.801.635,140 bolivianos" [about $260 million, 1 BOB = 0.145 USD], confirm the director General of Administrative Affairs, Sergio Cceres. It was reported that of that total, 76% is destined for salaries of civilian and military personnel of that Ministry, representing 1.6% of the General budget of the nation and the rest to expenses of supply troop and boxes, as well as insurance against accidents from compulsory military service and activities of the armed forces.

It noted that the Ministry of defence has own resources generated by the Directorates-General and that portfolio of State institutions, they total 498.551.245 bolivianos [about $70 million, 1 BOB = 0.145 USD], which are aimed at maintenance of military regions and the military courts; logistical support and supply the staff of boxes and another percentage, to the Premilitar service with provision of food, clothing and furniture.

Without wanting to link the renewal of its military equipment with an arms race, the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has given a good boost to the modernization of the armed forces. The Government aims to return a reasonable operational capacity for the Mission of defence, supporting the integral development and emergencies in the country. Since Morales came to power in 2006, the air force received 9 aircraft Diamond by training and 6 K-8 fighter of Chinese manufacture for the fight against drug trafficking and smuggling.Also bought 2 and 6 helicopters Robinson R-44, 2 Eurocopter AS350 and 2 EC145 for the attention of emergencies and aid, in addition to a flotilla of passenger transport aircraft on domestic routes and load at the international level. Military fleet has also been renewed with 148 trucks, 42 buses, 142 trucks, 40 quads and motorcycles for operating against border crimes and for patrolling regions with problems of insecurity. The defense budget has remained unchanged in the past six years in net terms and increments are to cover the improvement of salaries for the military, as it has done in all sectors of the country. The Centre of strategic studies of the defense of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) established the percentage of spending in this field in Bolivia in 2010 in relation to the tax is the lowest in the region, arriving to 1.43 percent, followed by Paraguay, with 2.06 percent, while that of Colombia is the highest, with a 7.74%. The Government of Paraguay has accused several times to Bolivia of having an arms plan with the help of Venezuela, denounces always rejected by La Paz, who has replicated that Asuncion wants to install bases with the cooperation of the United States

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Page last modified: 19-12-2012 19:54:14 ZULU