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Former Bulgaria’s Minister of Finance Christina Vucheva, a professor of finance, in a commentary for Bulgarian National Radio expressed an opinion that Bulgaria should not pay for the F-16s immediately but only after they are produced and delivered.
“[America] could step back in this respect from its principles and ask us for these billions (leva) for armament and aircraft not immediately, not up front, but four years later when they [the aircraft] will be produced”, Vucheva said, adding that with the help of this money Bulgaria would be able to update the budget.
The ex-minister positively perceives the purchase of the F-16. However, according to her, the domestic debt issued for a one-time payment for the aircraft could be allocated to the needs of the country.
“If you spend this money domestically, it would be extremely important for our development, stabilisation, and internal success. If this money goes outside the country, it is lost money”, Vucheva said.
Last week, the Ministry of Finance issued government securities in the amount of 300 million leva (just over $170 million) as part of the funds for a one-time payment for the purchase. It should be noted that the Bulgarian side insisted on paying in instalments because of the threat of slowing down the implementation of other projects for the modernisation of the Bulgarian armed forces.
Earlier, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced that the F-16 price offered by the American side was 2.2 billion leva (about $1.3 billion), while Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov previously noted the maximum affordable sum is two billion leva (more than $ 1.1 billion) that the country is ready to pay for the American jet fighters.
The final negotiations on the F-16 purchase will take place at the end of this week.
Bulgaria made the decision to purchase American F-16s after considering three options: from the United States, Sweden, and Italy. As Sweden's Ambassador to Bulgaria Louise Bergholm pointed out, the Swedish proposal on the Gripen was still standing.