Sri Lanka proposes $1.66 bn defence budget for 2009

October 2nd, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 2 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government, which has been engaged in a long drawn battle with the Tamil Tigers, wants to allocate Rs.177.1 billion ($1.66 billion) for its defence forces in next year’s budget.Quoting the appropriation bill published by the finance ministry, the Lanka Business Online (LBO) website Wednesday reported that the defence ministry will get Rs.18.7 billion as capital expenditure and Rs.158.4 billion as recurrent expenditure in 2009.

Of the proposed allocation, most of the money will be used for daily operations and to pay the wages of the security forces.

The appropriation bill for Sri Lanka’s budget for 2009, according to the report, would be presented to parliament on Oct 9 for its first reading.

The government’s allocation for the defence ministry in 2008 was Rs.166.44 billion.

The report of hike in the defence budget has come at a time when the government troops claim to have advanced towards the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) “administrative capital” of Kilinochchi in the north.

The military top brass last week claimed that the advancing troops were just four to five kilometers away from Kilinochchi town, about 350 kilometers from here. The air force has also stepped up air raids on suspected rebel targets in the area.

Defence experts say that the capture of Kilinochchi by the army would deal a major blow to the LTTE as it would force the rebels to operate from a corner in the northeastern Mullaitivu district.

The LTTE has been fighting against the Sri Lankan government to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern part of the island for the past three decades.

Thousands have died in fighting between the LTTE and the military since late 2005.

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