About 900 billion won (US$733 million) will be cut from this year’s defense budget as the South Korean government pushes to fund an extra budget in the wake of the coronavirus crisis without issuing bonds, Yonhap News Agency said Thursday. Earlier in the day, the finance ministry unveiled a second extra budget of 7.6 trillion won to cushion the economic fallout from COVID-19, saying it will readjust this year’s annual budget to fund the plan, rather than issuing bonds. A total of 904.7 billion won — 192.7 billion won from operating expenses and 712 billion won from arms procurement expenses — will be slashed from the defense spending plans, raising concerns over the possible impact on the country’s defense capabilities.
The defense budget was among the most sharply cut items. The government has modified plans for new arms contracts or combined exercises following the virus outbreak. The government will also partially adjust payment schedules for the introduction of F-35A stealth fighters and an Aegis destroyer system from this year to next year. No delay in introduction or deployment of any equipment is expected due to the budget cut. South Korea’s budget for the military was set at 50.15 trillion won this year, up 7.4 percent from last year’s 46.7 trillion won.