September 23, 2023
Economy International

Sri Lanka Announces Military Cutbacks to Address Financial Crisis

Sri Lanka Announces Military Cutbacks to Address Financial Crisis

Sri Lanka has announced plans to reduce its army strength by nearly a third by next year as the island nation faces its worst financial crisis in recent memory. Expenditure on the military is said to be the largest chunk of the annual budget, and with the country owing more than $50 billion to lenders, the government has decided to take action.

Sri Lankan Deputy Defense Minister, Premitha Bandara Thennakoon, has stated that military might and sustainable economic development are “two sides of a coin, which stay together, but never talk to each other in open.” The plan is to cut the number of soldiers to 135,000 from the current over 2 lacs by 2024, with the aim of creating a well-balanced defense force that can deal with security challenges.

The South Asian country had earlier increased its defense budget following years of civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which killed over 100,000 people. However, with peace being achieved in recent years, the government has now turned its attention to addressing the country’s debt crisis.

The recent move to reduce army strength comes as global lenders have asked Lankan authorities to get rid of “white elephants” and raise taxes as part of a debt restructuring program with the IMF and other lenders. The government, led by Wickremesinghe, has announced a cut in army strength as part of this program.

The deputy PM has mentioned cutting the army strength to 1 lac by 2030, calling the government’s aim for a well-balanced defense force to deal with security challenges. This is a step taken to assure national and human security, in addition to create new avenues for economic growth.

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