South Korea has announced that its defence budget will be cut so as the country issues a second budget as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, although it says that defence procurement plans will not be affected.
The revised budget will see a total of 904.7 billion won (1 Korean won = A$0.00128617) diverted from the defence ministry’s 2020 budget, with 192.7 billion won taken from operating expenses and a further 712 billion won from arms procurement expenses, cut from the defense spending plans.
This cut is expected to bring South Korea’s defense budget down 1.8% from the original figure of 50.15 trillion won. However South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the ministry insists that most of the funds that have been cut were not expected not to be used due to changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government has modified plans for new arms contracts or combined exercises following the virus outbreak. The adjustments to contracts include amending payment schedules for South Korea’s Lockheed-Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and a KDX-III Aegis destroyer from this year to next year, although the delivery schedules of both will not be affected.
South Korea’s Finance Ministry unveiled a second extra budget last week aimed at cushioning the economic impact of the pandemic. In order to fund the plan, the Finance Ministry will revise the current-year national budget rather than look to issue bonds.
Thailand cuts naval budget
The Royal Thai Navy has also announced that it will pare back its own budget, following the Thai government’s call to all ministries to reduce spending to allow the funds to be used for fighting the pandemic.
A spokesman for the navy, quoted by local media of March, says that the Thai navy will cut its budget by a third, above the 10% cut to budgets across all of Thailand’s government ministries announced at the end of March.
In addition to the suspension of plans to acquire two more submarines from China that DRA has reported earlier, all projects related to submarine training and infrastructure have put on hold.
Also taken off spending projections are the planned overhaul of the RTN’s Sikorsky Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters and construction of accommodation for naval personnel.
To download the latest issue of Defence Review Asia, click here