Zelenskiy says next year's budget will be a war budget, focus on defence

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during his nightly address in Kyiv

(Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday said next year's budget would be a war budget, devoting more than a trillion hryvnias ($27.40 billion) to defence and security spending.

In an evening video address, he also said social obligations such as pensions had to be covered in full. Non-critical expenses must be reduced as much as possible, he added.

Zelenskiy said he had met earlier in the day with Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and other officials.

"It is clear that this will be the budget of a country at war," he said. "More than a trillion hryvnias next year will go to the security and defense sector. This is going to be the number one priority."

The government would present plans to reduce spending on state enterprises, officials and institutions that were deemed non-essential, he said.

A special rebuilding fund will be set up to be partly made up from proceeds of the confiscation of Russian assets, he said, repeating an idea Kyiv has raised earlier.

Ukraine has estimated the costs of the war combined with lower tax revenues has left a $5 billion-a-month fiscal shortfall - or 2.5% of pre-war GDP. Economists calculate that pushes the annual deficit to 25% of GDP, compared with just 3.5% before the conflict.

($1 = 36.5000 hryvnias)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Ronald PopeskiEditing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)