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(LEAD) Defense ministry demands 5.3-pct increase in defense budget for 2017

All News 15:55 June 10, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in para 4-5)

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- The Ministry of National Defense has demanded a 5.3 percent on-year increase in its defense budget for 2017 as it plans to accelerate efforts to bolster the welfare of military conscripts and build up the country's air defense system, the ministry said Friday.

The ministry has submitted its defense budget demand to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, requesting a budget of 40.87 trillion won (US$35.18 billion) for next year, according to a statement. The defense budget for this year stands at 38.8 trillion won.

The budget increase reflects welfare plans to hike the salary of military conscripts by 10 percent and to expand psychological counseling services for the conscripts, the statement said.

Under the wage hike plan, the average monthly salary of an Army corporal will be pushed up to 195,800 won next year, up 10 percent from this year and doubling from its corresponding figure in 2012, according to the defense ministry.

The 2017 budget plan also includes a fund of 1.6 trillion won to be spent in the on-going long-haul drive to build an indigenous air defense system. The Korean Air and Missile Defense and Kill Chain, which aims to be complete by the mid-2020's, is part of a broader plan to regain Seoul's wartime operational control of its troops from Washington.

The money being requested for the air defense system marks an increase of 4.8 percent from the corresponding budget for this year.

With an increased annual budget, the ministry also plans to further fortify military camps on South Korean islands near the maritime border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea.

Following coordination with the finance ministry, the budget plan will be submitted to the National Assembly for final approval in the latter half of the year, it added.


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