Biting Bullets

Oct 5, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka plans to increase overall defence spending by 45 percent in calendar 2007 amid an upsurge in fighting between security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, officials figures showed Thursday. The government’s initial budget estimates placed before parliament forecast defence spending would rise to 139.55 billion rupees (1.39 billion dollars) from an estimate of 96.21 billion rupees (962 million dollars) in 2006.

The military’s capital spending, which reflects purchases of weapons and other equipment, jumped almost three-fold with the army, navy and the air force budgets leaping while police capital spending showed a decline.

The release of the figures comes as peacebroker Norway is working to end a spiral of violence that has claimed more than 1,500 lives since December and save a tattered 2002 truce. Some 60,000 people have been killed in the separatist conflict since 1972.

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