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October 5, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka Thursday cut retail fuel prices, but raised prices for alcohol and cigarettes, as the government disclosed plans to raise defence expenses and hike overall spending by over 40 percent next year. In addition, defence spending is to climb by 45 percent to 139.5 billion rupees, with military procurements almost trebled next year.

(US$ 1 = LKR 104) Gasoline prices will go down by 2.00 rupees to 97.00 rupees while diesel will cost 2.50 rupees less at 62.00 rupees, the finance ministry said.

Prices of kerosene will remain at 48.00 rupees a litre.

The fuel price revision will also apply to across Indian oil retailer Lanka IOC’s 160 retail outlets, its Managing Director K Ramakrishnan said.

A net oil importer, Sri Lanka last lowered fuel prices on Sept. 27, as global crude prices climbed down from its record highs of 75 dollars to about 61 dollars a barrel.

President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the country’s finance minister, had ordered (fuel) prices to be reduced to ease the cost of living, D S Attygalle, Director General of the Treasury said.

Consumer prices in Sri Lanka rose to 15.4 percent in Sept from 15.3 percent in August, the Census & Statistics Dept said la

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