Lithuanian president calls SDC meeting to discuss army division plans

  • 2024-01-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has called a meeting of the country's State Defense Council on Tuesday.

During the meeting, SDC members will get acquainted with the strategic threat assessment by the country's intelligence services and discuss the principle structure of the national defense system, the presidential office said on Monday.

The SDC will also assess economic and financial models for acquisitions needed for the development of an infantry division.

Lithuania plans to establish a light infantry division by 2030, and the country's parliament, the Seimas, is now considering a new model for the conscription system.

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte says these changes would require additional funding of around 0.4-0.5 percent of GDP, on top of the 2.52 percent of GDP currently agreed by political parties.

One of the ways ministers are now looking into is the introduction of a defense tax. However, some politicians are skeptical about such a potential tax.

The debate on it has been reignited after the president criticized the 2024 defense budget for not including funds for the division plan earlier approved by the SDC

The ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats have vowed to start pooling cross-party support to agree on such a new tax that could come into force in 2025. Politicians are considering raising VAT or corporate tax rates, for example, to boost funding for national defense.

2.75 percent of GDP has been allocated for national defense in Lithuania's this year budget. Of this, 2.52 percent will be the regular budgetary allocations and the remainder will come from the temporary bank solidarity levy to finance only infrastructure to host allies.