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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka to shrink Army over 50-pct by 2030, to strengthen Navy: State Defence Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will see more than 50 percent reduction in army cadres by 2030 and will strengthen the navy to safeguard the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Indian Ocean, State Defence Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon said.

Sri Lanka is in the process of reducing a bloated state sector which is estimated at around 1.5 million in a country with 22 million population.

Tri forces (army, navy, air force) and police account for nearly 30 percent of the total state sector employees.

Tennakoon said an expert panel has been appointed to look into the cadres and strength of the tri forces under a strategic plan titled ‘Defence Review 2030’.

“There is an approved cadres 0f 208,000 in the army (as of now). Our expectation is to bring it down to 100,000,” the State Minister said.

“But we don’t expect to remove anybody. We have compiled a natural depreciation plan with the natural reduction in the number of armed force with the retirement. The aim is to maintain a 100,000-member army in 2030.”

Sri Lanka had a large number of military personnel when it ended a 26-year war in 2009.

Military is highly regarded by majority of Sri Lankans after they won the war against Tamil Tiger rebels who are popularly known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and carves for a separate state in the island nation’s North and East.

There was a voluntary retirement schemes (VRS), encouraging military retire earlier than the retirement age. However, the government has been reluctant to reduce the military numbers due to fears of political repercussions.

Tennakoon emphasized the need to improve the capability of navy.

“We need to strengthen both navy and the airforce. We are in a strategic position globally. Our EEZ is eight times larger than our country. So improving the strength of navy is also our objective,” he said.

“When we say improving the strength, it does not necessarily mean to increase the number of sailers. Australia is a large island. According to the information I have, the total number of people in the Australian navy is between 12,000-17,000.”

“We need to improve the technology of our naval force. Our expectation is to use the modern technology.”

Sri Lanka government has been in the process of improving the island nation’s Navy’s capacity in handling foreign research ships, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told last week.

Sri Lanka’s exclusive economic zone has become a geopolitical hotspot with a cold war between China and Sri Lanka’s neighbour India. (Colombo/May 16/2024)

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Sri Lanka plans to expand Bingiriya export zone to 1,100 acres

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expanding an export processing zone in Bingiriya in Kurunegala and plans to link the area with Puttalam with roads and other infrastructure, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

A task force of ministerial secretaries will be appointed to carry out the tasks speedily, following a cabinet paper submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Bingiriya zone already has 157 acres and another 282 acres is being developed by the Board of Investment, he said.

Steps would also be taken to acquire 666 acres.

There was no information whose lands would be acquired. (Colombo/May23/2024)

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Sri Lanka has power breakdowns amidst extreme weather

ECONOMYNEXT – The state-owned power utility, the Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last three days due to inclement weather in the island, the power minister said.

“Additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers,” Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said on social media platform X (twitter).

Wijesekera said consumers could report power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, via SMS to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, or use the CEB Care app, or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk.

The South-East monsoon has seen floods, landslides and strong winds do damage to the utility provider’s infrastructure in the last week. (Colombo/May23?2024)

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Sri Lanka President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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