Sri Lanka raises defence spending by six percent

October 19, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka announced Tuesday it would raise defence spending by six percent in 2011 — broadly in line with annual hikes announced during the government’s war with Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka’s fiscal deficit shot up to 9.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, exceeding the seven percent target set by the International Monetary Fund when it released a 2.6-billion-dollar bailout package in 2009. The government allocated 215 billion rupees (1.92 billion dollars) for defence in calendar 2011, according to official figures tabled in parliament Tuesday — about a fifth of the national budget.

Official sources say the state needs to keep defence spending high, despite the fact the ethnic war has ended, because of hefty installment payments on military hardware bought to fight the separatist Tamil Tigers.

Government forces crushed the rebels in May 2009, ending what had become Asia’s longest-running ethnic conflict that claimed up to 100,000 lives over nearly four decades, according to UN estimates.

The highest portion of the defence budget next year in the island nation of 20 million people will go to the army.

The army will absorb just over half of the enti

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