Defense ministry submits W35.8 tln budget request for 2014

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry said Thursday it has submitted a 35.8 trillion won (US$33.2 billion) budget request for fiscal year 2014 to parliament for approval, a 4.2 percent increase from this year's budget.

The proposal includes improving welfare services and raising the salaries of soldiers by 15 percent, which calls for the pay of corporals to rise from 117,000 won to 134,600 won a month.

The move comes as President Park Geun-hye promised to double soldiers' pay to appeal to them and their parents who have long demanded a pay raise for military service, which is required by law for all-able bodied men.

The current amount is roughly equivalent to three days of work assuming an employee works eight hours a day at a minimum hourly wage set at 4,580 won.

For arms procurement, the ministry assigned 10.6 trillion won to enhance missile and combat capabilities, an increase of 5.8 percent from this year.

The acquisition plan includes the purchase of multipurpose commercial satellites, high-altitude spy drones and ballistic missiles to establish a pre-emptive missile destruction system, the so-called "kill chain."

The missile system is designed to detect signs of impending missiles or nuclear attacks from North Korea and launch pre-emptive strikes to eliminate the threat.

The draft includes the additional purchase of PAC-2 missile interceptors and upgrading the current system to PAC-3 to deter North Korean missiles as part of efforts to improve the Korean Missile Defense System.

North Korea is believed to have over 1,000 missiles with varying capabilities as well as multiple launchers that can shoot rockets, putting South Korea well within its missile range.

The budget plan needs parliamentary approval before being implemented by the government in fiscal year 2014, which begins on Jan. 1.

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