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Sri Lanka raises defence spending

Sri Lanka on Tuesday announced it would raise defence spending by over five percent in 2012, more than two years after the government ended a decades-long ethnic conflict with Tamil rebels. The government allocated 230 billion rupees ($2.1 billion) for the calendar year 2012, up from 215 billion rupees ($1.92 billion) estimated for defence expenses in 2011, according to official figures tabled in parliament Tuesday.
Sri Lanka has maintained that it needs to keep defence spending high, to repay hefty instalments 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 since 1972, according to UN estimates.

According to figures tabled in parliament, nearly half of the 2012 defence budget will be spent on the army to maintain its 200,000 personnel.

President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also finance minister, is due to unveil the full 2012 budget on November 21, when he is expected to announce new revenue raising proposals to meet state expenses.

The government’s 2012 expenditure was estimated at 2.22 trillion rupees ($20.1 billion), while revenue was estimated at 1.115 trillion rupees, resulting in a budget deficit of 1.105 trillion rupees.



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