Bankrupt Sri Lanka to cut army strength by one-third for economic gains

Bankrupt Sri Lanka to cut army strength by one-third for economic gains

COLOMBO – After defaulting on its debt for the first time, Sri Lanka has announced cutting its army strength by nearly a third by next year as the Island nation is facing the worst financial crisis in recent memory.

The Lankan government makes the announcement, as expenditure on its military is said to be the largest chunk of the annual budget.

Sri Lankan deputy defense minister Premitha Bandara Thennakoon termed military might and sustainable economic development ‘two sides of a coin, which stay together, but never talk to each other in open’.

Explaining the rationale to cut the number of soldiers to 135,000 from the current over 0.2 million by 2024, the deputy PM said the budget for armed forces is linked with new avenues for economic growth as it assures national and human security.

Thennakoon, however, 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.

The South Asian country earlier increased defence budget following years of civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which killed over 100,000 people.

After gaining peace in recent years, the country owed more than $50 billion to lenders, and its central bank announced that the country was now in a pre-emptive default.

The recent development comes as global lenders have asked Lankan authorities to get rid of white elephants, and by raising taxes. The government led by Wickremesinghe announced a cut in army strength to settle a debt restructuring program with IMF, and other lenders.