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Defence Minister signals deep cuts to defence force personnel next year

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö says the Finnish Defence Forces can expect personnel cuts of up to 200 positions next year. However he said that government plans to spend some 30 million euros more on defence materiel in 2017.

Jussi Niinistö
Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö says he's satisfied that government has topped up the budget for military hardware spending. Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

Finns Party MP and Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö said Friday that the recently-forged labour market competitiveness pact would have a knock-on effect on the public sector.

According to Niinistö one inevitable consequence would be personnel reductions in the Defence Forces. He estimated that the cuts could eliminate up to 200 jobs.

"We will have to reduce person-years to some extent as a result of this competitiveness deal, which requires us to trim the public sector into a more streamlined shape, in other words we will do more work with fewer personnel," Niinistö added.

However the minister said that government is not considering shuttering any garrisons.

More funding for military hardware

In spite of the proposed payroll cuts, the government will be looking to ramp up spending on military hardware. Niinistö said that he is satisfied with an additional allocation of 30 million euros for materiel acquisitions in next year’s budget.

He noted that altogether next year’s materiel war chest will be 80 million euros bigger than the level of funding seen in the previous administration.

The minister noted that spending on Air Force flight training, naval vessel shifts and reservist exercises will remain at the same level as last year, although government will prioritise the Armed Forces' hardware needs in the coming years.

"In the 2020s we will see these major naval acquisitions and at the end of the decade a fighter jet project to replace the hornets," Niinistö concluded.

According to the most recent data from the Finnish Defence Forces, the organisation employed a total of 13,000 people in military and ancillary services at the end of 2014.

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