Norway`s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Audun Braastad / AFP)
HELSINKI — Norway’s 2014 budget is $7.2 billion, up from $7.06 billion the previous year. The 2014 budget also will be the last major executive financial action by Labor Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s socialist administration, which has been in power since 2005.
Norway’s new government, which was victorious over Labor in September parliamentary elections, consists of a coalition partnership between the Conservatives (Høyre) and the right-wing populist Progress Party (FrP). The new Conservative-led administration will assume office on Oct. 16.
The main thrust of the 2014 budget continues to be modernization of Norway’s core national defense systems and financing major programs, such as the acquisition of F-35 combat aircraft and related airbase construction projects in Norway’s south and the High North regions.
In a time of austerity, Norway’s 2014 budget is also notable for being the biggest per-capita defense spend among nations allied to NATO in Europe. The $7.2 billion allocation will rank among the top 10 defense budgets in Europe in 2014.
Core front-line units, mainly Army, will benefit from an $87 million increase to the operational budget. Much of this additional funding represents monies redistributed from Norway’s scaled-down operations in Afghanistan.
The budget allocation for procurement is $1.83 billion, up from $1.46 billion earmarked in 2013. The procurement spend in 2014 is equivalent to 25 percent of the total budget for that year.
The 2014 budget increases funding for operational units and maintenance tasks within the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Home Guard (National Guard). Primary funding increases will be used to strengthen operational activities to develop front-line units equipped with the latest equipment and supported by highly trained personnel.
In the budget proposal for 2014, Norway’s Parliament will be asked to approve the procurement of an additional six aircraft for planned delivery in 2018. This is in addition to the 10 aircraft already approved for procurement.
The restructuring and reduction of the Norwegian military presence in Afghanistan is set to be finalized in 2014. The drawdown is estimated to free up an extra $57 million in 2014. The bulk of the liberated funds will be redistributed to core Army, Navy and Air Force operating units.