Sri Lanka raises defence budget by 20 percent: report

October 9, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has raised its defence expenditure by another 20 percent this year following its military victory over separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. Parliament late Thursday approved an additional 33 billion rupees (287 million dollars) to pay for hardware and beef up security in former conflict zones.

At the beginning of the year, Sri Lanka had allocated a record 1.6 billion dollars for defence in 2009, up from 1.5 billion dollars last year as government forces remained locked in combat with Tamil Tigers.

Despite the final defeat of the rebels in mid-May, the military argued that it needed another 20 billion rupees to recruit more soldiers and pay for fuel, medical supplies and compensation for those who were injured or died in combat.

“It is important to acquire vehicles and hire heavy equipment for troop transport and to construct new camps,” papers presented to parliament showed.

The Sri Lankan army plans to recruit tens of thousands of new troops to be deployed in areas that were previously under rebel control.

The United Nations estimated that 80,000 to 100,000 people died in Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist conflict b