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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK

UK Politics

Kosovo 'no threat' to Treasury

The total cost of military operations in Kosovo is £37m

The cost of the continuing conflict in Kosovo poses "no threat to public finances", MPs have heard.

Kosovo: Special Report
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Alan Milburn gave evidence to the Treasury Committee on Tuesday on the cost of the UK's involvement in the air strikes against Serbia.

Mr Milburn said the action would not put the government's fiscal rules in jeopardy.

"The costs to date are perfectly consistent with our public spending plans," he said.

[ image: Alan Milburn: Costs consistent with plans]
Alan Milburn: Costs consistent with plans
"There are discussions taking place between the individual departments ... about how best to share those costs in government. We can accommodate them and we will accommodate them.

"And indeed on any likely military scenario for the future, the costs of operations in Kosovo do pose no threat to the public finance."

Mr Milburn said the bill for humanitarian aid in Kosovo and surrounding areas now amounted to £40bn.

The cost of military operations stood at £37m to the end of April, excluding replacement munitions.

The figure for the cost of new weapons would depend on how long the conflict continued, Mr Milburn said.

Labour MP Jacqui Smith asked whether the humanitarian aid included the costs to local authorities in the UK accommodating refugees.

Those costs would be met by central government, the minister said.

He said it was "virtually impossible" to say what the total cost of the conflict would be for the UK, but no plans existed to increase taxes.

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