The international financial crisis has forced Latin America's biggest country to slash its defense budget and reduce by half the number of soldiers recruited annually, Brazil's Defense Ministry has said.Defense Minister Nelson Jobim told the O Globo newspaper ON Wednesday that Brazil's military, faced with a 30 per cent cut in its budget, will reduce from 80,000 to 40,000 the number of soldiers it recruits each year.
A ministry spokeswoman, who declined to be identified confirmed the remarks. The budget was slashed from USD 4.2 billion to 3 billion, the spokeswoman said on Wednesday.Despite the budget cut, recruits will have their monthly pay increased from USD 90 to 207 a month, she said.Under Brazilian law all males must enlist in one of the three branches of the armed forces at the age of 18.
The spokeswoman said an arms deal signed with France late last year would not be affected by the budget cuts "because that involves international financing".The agreement calls for France to transfer technology to build four diesel-powered Scorpene-type submarines and develop the "non-nuclear part" of a nuclear-propelled submarine.
The two countries also agreed to build a submarine base and shipyard in Rio de Janeiro and to have 50 EC 725 Cougar helicopters built by Brazil's Helibras, which is controlled by Eurocopter, a branch of the French-German defense group EADS.