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Sri Lanka getting rid of its army by a third due to economic crisis

Sri Lanka has decided to reduce the strength of its army by a third in phases. At present, total Sri Lankan army personnel are around 317,000 which will be slashed to 135,000 next year.

By the year 2030, Sri Lanka will reduce its army’s size to 100,000 only.

Premitha Bandara Thennakoon, Sri Lanka’s state minister of defence said on Friday. He said this decision is an outcome of cost cutting measures of the government in the face of its worst economic crisis.

“Military spending is basically state-borne expenditure which indirectly stimulates and opens avenues for economic growth by way of assuring national and human security,” Thennakoon said.

He said that by 2030, Sri Lanka will have a “tactically sound and well-balanced.

From 2017 to 2019, the strength of Sri Lankan armed forces peaked to 317,000 personnel.

Sri Lanka’s 25-year long conflict with Tamil Tigers ended in 2009, but the army’s size remained the largest.

Meanwhile, the defence sector’s share in Sri Lanka’s total expenditure in 2021 surged to record high, at 2.31% of the GDP and fell to 2.03% in 2022, according to Colombo-based think tank Verite Research.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently ordered a five percent cut in the spending of the state.

He also forewarned his administration about possible delay in welfare payments for 1.8 million families who are living below the poverty.

Moreover, Sri Lanka will have to achieve debt sustainability to secure a $2.9 billion IMF loan this year.

The IMF has also asked Sri Lanka to reduce its 1.5 million-strong public service, raise taxes further and privatize loss-making state enterprises.

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