In an apparent indication that the escalating defence budget is taking a heavy toll on the country`s economy, a senior Minister said yesterday the country was losing almost one hundred jobs with each Multi-barrel rocket fired on the LTTE.
Senior Minister and SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena insisted that though the government was now focussing on military engagements, it was aware that the final solution should be a political one.
`We may be thrilled to see the spectacle of multi-barrel attacks, but what we don`t realize is the price we all have to pay for such attacks,` Minister Sirisena said addressing an SLFP gathering in Polonnaruwa.
The Minister stressed that the government embarked on the All Party Conference initiative with the sole intention of reaching a negotiated settlement and said the government`s commitment to a negotiated settlement remained unchanged.The government Defence estimates for this stand at Rs. 139.56 billion with fears that it might rise further given the frequency of air bombing and heavy weapon attacks on LTTE positions. Since August there has been a steady rise in the operations using heavy military hardware by both the government and the LTTE.
This year`s defence budget is a 28% increase over last year`s and the projection for 2008 is around Rs. 143.46 billion.
The government however maintains that such expenses are critical to protect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country.