Polish armored vehicles participate in the Polish National Army Day parade in Katowice, Poland, August 15, 2019. Agencja Gazeta / Kamila Kotusz via REUTERS / File Photo

WARSAW, Oct.26 (Reuters) – Poland will use a funding method used to combat the economic consequences of COVID-19 to help fund a sharp increase in military spending, the defense minister said on Tuesday, as the government seeks to modernize and expand the armed forces.

The Polish government has used bonds issued by institutions such as the National Development Bank BGK or the PFR state fund – but state guaranteed – to finance much of its spending aimed at helping the economy through. the pandemic.

This has helped him avoid including such spending in the state budget, a tactic that has been criticized by the Supreme Court of Auditors as lacking transparency.

Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the government would create an Armed Forces Support Fund, financed by government guaranteed bonds issued by BGK, treasury bills, the state budget and bank profits. central.

“This is a solution that has been used by the COVID fund. I would like to stress strongly that the Armed Forces Support Fund will be managed by BGK, so it will not be an additional institution,” said Blaszczak at a press conference.

He did not say exactly how much the expansion and modernization of the armed forces would cost. However, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party Jaroslaw Kaczynski said spending would be “significantly higher” than 2% of gross domestic product, the level required of NATO states than Poland. already exceeds.

“You better be safe and a little more in debt,” Kaczynski said.

Blaszczak said the Defense Ministry aims to have more than 250,000 full-time soldiers and more than 50,000 members of the Territorial Defense Force, made up of professional and part-time volunteer soldiers. In 2020, there were approximately 110,000 full-time soldiers.

Reporting by Alan Charlish, additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, editing by Giles Elgood

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