Sri Lanka’s defense ministry said on Thursday it would halve its military strength as the bankrupt Sri Lankan government tries to restructure its troubled financial system.
The island nation of Sri Lanka is still grappling with months of food and fuel shortages, with its 22 million people facing a food crisis last year.
After the government defaulted on debt, President Ranil Wickremesinghe raised taxes and drastically cut spending to facilitate borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Sri Lankan military is also taking part in these spending cuts, and the Ministry of Defense has released a report that 65,000 soldiers from the 200,000-strong army will retire this year.
The cuts are part of a plan to reduce the number of troops by 100,000 by the end of the decade. The overall goal of troop reductions is a detailed strategic plan to achieve a well-balanced defense force and tactical credibility, the report said.
More than a decade after the outbreak of civil war in Sri Lanka, the number of troops has grown larger than necessary.
The strength of the army peaked in 2009, when Sri Lankan government forces suppressed the separatist Tamil Tiger movement, by which time nearly 400,000 troops had been enlisted.
Last year, the defense sector accounted for nearly 10% of government spending, and about half of all government employees’ salaries are paid to the security forces, experts say.
The government warned this week that even after raising the tax rate earlier this year, it would still only be enough to pay salaries and pensions to civil servants. Last year, the country lost power on Friday. Queuing up at petrol stations; The country’s economy shrank 8.7% due to a shortage of shopping centers and rising inflation.
Due to these conditions, growing public discontent and the protests that took place, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had to leave the country and had to resign.