Burma is one of 20 countries whose military expenditure is more than four percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a new report by a Swedish think tank.
Alongside Burma in the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) list are Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Chad, Libya, Israel, Russia, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.
According to the report, Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh are among the top purchasers of military equipment from prolific weapons seller China.
The report also included a list of weapons Burma has bought from China, India and Russia in the last year. This includes warships, MiG-29 jet fighters, Mi-35P and Mi-24P military helicopters, tanks, shoulder-held rocket launchers and radar equipment.
Burma’s Deputy-Minister of Defence Lt-Gen Wai Lwin in January proposed to the union parliament a 2,750 billion kyat (US$2.75 billion) budget for the armed forces over the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The Asian Development Bank has estimated Burma’s military spending to be 4.8 percent of the GDP.
In recent years, a decrease in the vicelike grip of the military on the country has seen lawmakers challenging budgetary decisions. In 2013, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was among the MPs who called for amendments to the 2013-2014 National Planning Bill, insisting that the budget must “reflect the people’s desire”.