Sri Lanka hikes defense spending to record high

Updated 28 September 2014
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Sri Lanka hikes defense spending to record high

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka raised defense spending to record levels for a second straight year despite pressure to scale down its military after ending decades of ethnic war, official figures showed.
The government allocated 285 billion rupees ($2.22 billion) for the defense ministry in calendar 2015, up 12.25 percent from this year, according to the appropriation bill tabled in parliament.
There was no immediate comment from the government on its record defense spending to maintain a large security force more than five years after President Mahinda Rajapakse’s troops crushed separatist Tamil rebels.
Colombo is under international pressure to reduce its military presence in the island’s former war zones and take troops away from civilian duties.
However, official sources said a three-year spending plan of the government envisaged even more increases in national security spending to over 370 billion rupees ($2.89 billion) by 2017.
Security forces in May 2009 declared an end to 37 years of ethnic war which had claimed at least 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.
Defense spending accounts for 16.6 percent of the government’s projected revenue for 2015, according to official figures.
Sri Lanka’s economy recorded more than eight percent growth in the first two full years after the end of the fighting, but is expected to grow at a slightly slower 7.8 percent this year.
Rajapakse, who holds both the finance and defense portfolios, is due to unveil the full 2015 budget in November, when he is expected to announce revenue proposals to meet state expenses.


US-Saudi business council reports $13bn in contracts

Updated 22 min 57 sec ago
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US-Saudi business council reports $13bn in contracts

  • Improved oil prices, combined with a government focus on spending, contributed to the rise, the council said

LONDON: The value of joint Saudi-US contracts rose to $13 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to a business council report.

That marked the highest value of awarded contracts since the first quarter of 2015, the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council said.

The value of contracts awarded during the first quarter amounted to about half of the total value in all of last year, it added.

The contracts “included many vital projects, notably in the oil, gas, water and transport sectors,” Abdallah Jum’ah, the co-chair of the council, was reported as saying by Asharq Al-Awsat.

Energy was the top sector, with $3.1 billion of the value of contracts awarded, with many struck by Saudi Aramco. 

Improved oil prices, combined with a government focus on spending, contributed to the rise, the council said.

The construction sector also looks set for a recovery after many projects were put on hold due to the oil-price crash.

“If the pace of awarding construction contracts witnessed during the first quarter of 2019 continues for the rest of the year, the index of awarding construction contracts may return to the range we witnessed before the canceling and postponing of mega projects due to lower oil revenue,” the council said.