09/09/2022, 18.00
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Despite its crisis, Sri Lanka plans to boost its military spending

by Melani Manel Perera

The country is on its knees from the collapse of its currency and foreign debt; yet, it spends 19 per cent of its budget on the military 13 years after the end of the country’s civil war in order to keep a heavy military presence in the north of the country. “The government and President Wickremesinghe need the military because they do not have the support of public opinion,” says Tamil lawmaker.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka's reforms should apply to the military as well, this according to a Tamil MP.

“Planned reforms resulting from the ongoing economic crisis should also be applicable to Sri Lanka’s military, which should be downsized,” said opposition MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, speaking before parliament.

Gajendrakumar, leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, raised the issue during the budget debate, coming out against increasing the military budget at a time when the country is on its knees and restructuring its foreign debt to cope with the ongoing crisis.

“The government and President Wickremesinghe need the military because they do not have the support of public opinion,” explained the Tamil lawmaker, who noted that military spending constitutes 19 per cent of the state budget.

"In the former war zone in northern Sri Lanka, a massive military structure is maintained even during the period of economic crisis to oppress the general public.

“The government has allocated more money for the maintenance of the armed forces at a time when the rupee is devaluing and even if the country has no enemies.”

Most opposition MPs from the north have raised concerns about the heavy military presence in the region, even though 13 years have lapsed since the end of the long civil war.

The latter ended with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist group that called for an independent state for the Tamil minority in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

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