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.


Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank picks Barclays to advise on merger

Updated 2 min 22 sec ago
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Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank picks Barclays to advise on merger

  • Potential merger involves ADCB, Union National Bank (UNB) and Al Hilal Bank
  • A merger of the trio could create an entity with around $113 billion in assets

ABU DHABI: Barclays has been appointed by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) to advise on a potential merger plan involving Union National Bank (UNB) and Al Hilal Bank, banking sources told Reuters.
The merger, announced by the banks in September, is the latest consolidation among state-owned companies in the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) capital.
ADCB, majority owned by the Abu Dhabi government and the second largest bank in the emirate after First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), declined to comment. Barclays also declined to comment.
If it goes ahead, a merger of the trio could create an entity with around $113 billion in assets, according to Refinitiv data, and the UAE’s third-biggest lender after FAB and Emirates NBD.
A separate source said two banks could be created out of the consolidation, with the conventional banking units of ADCB and UNB merging to create one lender.
Another could be formed through combining the Islamic banking units of ADCB and UNB, along with Al Hilal.
AlKhaleej newspaper reported the same arrangement was being considered last month, citing sources.
The tie-up was at an early stage, UAE Central Bank governor Mubarak Rashed Al-Mansoori told reporters last week on the sidelines of a conference, adding he expected more consolidation in the future.
FAB was created by last year’s merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank.
The emirate of Sharjah is weighing a merger between three of its banks — Bank of Sharjah, Invest Bank and United Arab Bank, Reuters reported in September, citing sources.