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Spain to boost defence budget

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Spain to boost defence budget
Archive photo of army tank during annual military parade in Madrid. Photo: AFP
09:00 CET+01:00
Spain is planning to boost defence spending by 73 percent to €18 billion ($22 billion) by 2024, an announcement that sparked outrage among opposition MPs who say social services will suffer.

Speaking at a parliamentary defence commission on Wednesday, Defence Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal said the conservative government planned to increase the military budget to "around 1.53 percent of GDP."   

According to figures provided to AFP by the defence ministry, military spending currently stands at €10.4 billion , or 0.86 percent of GDP.   

The increase to €18 billion by 2024 will represent a 73 percent rise.    

READ ALSO: Too fat to fight: Spanish Legion soldiers put on diet

At the commission, opposition Socialist party lawmaker Ana Botella asked de Cospedal for "explanations over the Spanish government's commitment to NATO" to increase military spending.

She said many Spanish families' "daily lives are marked by hardship and precarity", adding that defence spending was being increased at a time when austerity measures imposed during a severe economic crisis had weakened social services.

De Cospedal also announced that Spain would increase the number of military personnel in Mali from 140 to 292.   

"We are seeing a new deterioration of the security situation in Mali, there are constant attacks against Malian institutions, against the UN stabilisation mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and against Western interests and personnel," she said.

Mali's army, a deployment of French soldiers and MINUSMA have little control over large tracts of the semi-desert African country despite almost five years of military operations to root out jihadists.

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