YEREVAN — The Armenian government is planning to increase its defense expenditures by 7 percent to 554 billion drams ($1.38 billion) next year, Finance Minister Vahe Hovannisyan said on Wednesday.

“As a result, our defense spending will be equivalent to 5.3 percent of GDP, down by 0.3 percentage points from 2023,” Hovannisian told the Armenian parliament as he presented the government’s draft state budget for 2024.

Asked to elaborate on the decrease against the GDP, the minister said, ” When we say it has decreased 0,3 percent, it doesn’t mean that the money has decreased, it’s just that our revenues are growing faster than the expenditures that we have decided to allocate for the defense sector.”

He said that 42 percent of 695 billion drams in capital spending planned by the government in 2024 will also be channeled into national defense. This presumably includes the construction of new barracks, other military installations and border fortifications.

Armenia’s defense budget was projected to soar by as much as 46 percent this year. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on November 16 that his government will keep increasing it for purely defensive purposes.

“I’m sure that all of our neighbors realize that we do not intend to attack anyone,” he said in an apparent effort to reassure Azerbaijan.

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