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Libya - Military Expenditure

By one estimate, military Expenditure in Libya decreased to 4800 USD Million in 2014 from 5188 USD Million in 2013. Military Expenditure in Libya averaged 1806 USD Million from 1997 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 5188 USD Million in 2013 and a record low of 680 USD Million in 1999.

Qadhafi Era Military Budget

The pattern of defense spending was difficult to appraise with any exactitude since the mid-1970s, when government restrictions on the publication of military information were imposed. Detailed budgets, once available, have not been disclosed since the mid-1970s. Total amounts allocated to defense in the national budget were available, but apportionments to individual service components or specific programs were impossible to ascertain. Moreover, the figures published for the defense budget clearly fell far short of actual expenditures. In all likelihood, many military outlays were hidden under other budget items or obscured by manipulation of prices or exchange rates. The value of imported military equipment alone has generally been far in excess of the allocations to defense as recorded in the budget. The massive purchases from the Soviet Union, estimated at over US$1 billion annually since the mid-1970s, do not appear in the budget either as payments or amortization of military credit.

Increased spending for military improvements and other defense needs was made possible by the vast revenues from petroleum-- particularly after the government nationalized the industry. Even during the monarchy, a doubling of military expenditures between 1964 and 1968 demonstrated that this new source of revenue permitted an upgrading of the military that was previously unattainable. Nonetheless, defense expenditures under the monarchy continued to be relatively modest. As one specialist wrote just before the 1969 coup, "thus far Libya has avoided succumbing to the lure of the arms race or procurement of nonessential prestige military forces."

Within a few years after the assumption of power by the Qadhafi regime, defense spending accelerated dramatically. It continued to rise nearly every year, although at a somewhat reduced rate after 1978. Arms imports ordinarily formed more than half of total defense expenditures. However, some slackening in the value of imported equipment has occurred since 1982. This is attributed in part to the saturation of the Libyan defense forces and in part to financial strains on the government arising from the sharp decline in oil prices.

The limited official data published by Libya offer a completely different picture from the estimates compiled by non-Libyan sources. In the administrative budget for 1984, the amount shown for the armed forces is LD340 million, which constituted 23.6 percent of the budget. This represented a substantial increase over the LD300 million shown for 1983, composing 19.7 percent of the administrative budget. Defense expenditures were omitted from the budget published for 1985, and no explanation was supplied of the component items in the ostensible disbursements for defense in 1983 or 1984.

According to estimates compiled by ACDA, Libyan military expenditures rose eightfold between 1973 and 1979, when a peak of US$3 billion annually was reached. Spending then remained fairly level until a new upswing in spending began by 1983. By 1984, annual outlays on defense were estimated at US$5.1 billion. The 1979 figure represented 12.4 percent of gross national product (GNP), whereas the 1984 figure represented 17.8 percent of GNP and an exceptionally high 40 percent of total government expenditures. On the basis of the ACDA estimate, military spending would have amounted to US$1360 per capita in 1984. This compared to a figure of US$34 per capita for Africa as a whole and was about twice the level of average per capita spending on defense of the average members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Only Israel, Saudi Arabia, and several smaller states of the Arabian Peninsula had military outlays on a scale comparable to those of Libya.

The estimates published by ACDA gave a figure of US$1.8 billion in arms purchases in 1984. Accordingly, if the ACDA figure of US$5.2 billion in total defense expenditures in 1984 was accepted, true defense costs exclusive of new weapons acquisitions would still be about US$3.4 billion or several times the officially acknowledged rate of spending. This would include such items as pay and benefits, military construction, fuel, maintenance, and the cost of the Chadian campaign.

Libyan defence expenditure declined from US $1.5 billion in 1998 to US$1.3 billion in 1999. The defence budget declined from US$1.3 billion in 1998 to US$1.2 billion in 2000. Defence expenditure constituted 4.7% of annual GDP.

Libya Country or land   94                  
North Africa Geographic group   41     Table I:     Green figures are highly uncertain
4.000 Political population quintile         Military expenditure, armed forces, GDP, population,     Blue figures are extremely uncertain
2.000 Economic population quintile at MER         labor force, and their ratios, 2006 - 2016     n/a indicates unpublished estimate
1.000 Economic population quintile at PPP                      
Parameter / Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Mean
Demographic parameters
Armed forces personnel (AF) (in thousands) 80 80 75 75 75 75 35 45 50 50 50 63
- Armed forces personnel as % of population 1.40% 1.30% 1.30% 1.30% 1.20% 1.30% 0.62% 0.75% 0.80% 0.78% 0.76% 1.00%
- Armed forces personnel as % of labor force 3.60% 3.50% 3.30% 3.30% 3.20% 3.30% 1.50% 1.90% 2.10% 2.10% 2.10% 2.70%
Population (midyear, in millions) 5.7 5.8 5.9 6.0 6.1 5.8 5.6 6.0 6.2 6.4 6.5 6.0
Labor force (LF) (midyear, in millions) 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.3 2.4 2.4 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.3
- Labor force as % of population 38.4% 38.7% 38.9% 38.9% 38.9% 40.4% 42.3% 39.1% 37.3% 36.4% 36.1% 38.6%
Armed forces composition (in thousands)[1]
- Army (land forces) 50 50 50 50 50 50 7 7 7 7 7 29.4
- Navy (may include marines) 8 8 8 8 8 8 1 1 1 1 1 4.8
- Air force (may include air defense) 20 20 20 20 20 20 2 2 2 2 2 12.2
- Other regular forces (incl. joint & support) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
- Paramilitary and irregular forces 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 35 40 40 40 36.0
Economic parameters in national currency
Military expenditure (ME)
- current national currency units (millions) 870 920 1,350 1,200 1,700 2,500 3,770 4,800 4,780 3,400 3,600
- constant 2016 ncu (millions) 2,130 2,030 2,450 2,910 3,610 4,490 5,070 4,710 7,610 3,860 3,600 3,860
ME/AF (constant 2016 ncu) 27,300 26,000 32,200 38,300 47,500 59,100 145,000 105,000 152,000 77,100 71,900 71,000
ME per capita (constant 2016 ncu) 380 350 410 480 590 780 900 780 1,220 600 550 641
Gross domestic product (GDP)
- current national currency units (millions) 72,200 85,200 107,000 79,000 94,700 42,500 128,000 83,700 39,200 51,600 59,700
- constant 2016 ncu (millions) 177,000 188,000 193,000 192,000 201,000 76,300 172,000 82,100 62,400 58,600 59,700 133,000
GDP per capita (constant 2016 ncu) 31,200 32,500 32,800 31,900 32,900 13,200 30,600 13,700 9,990 9,140 9,130 22,500
(ME/AF) / (GDP/LF)[2] 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 1.8 2.0 3.0 5.7 3.1 2.8 1.9
ME/GDP ("military burden")[3] 1.2% 1.1% 1.3% 1.5% 1.8% 5.9% 3.0% 5.7% 12.2% 6.6% 6.0% 4.2%




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Page last modified: 29-04-2019 14:39:33 ZULU