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SL Army earns over Rs. 1.5 b for nation-building tasks in 2021

27 Jan 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • Funds allocated by various Ministries
  • Renovation of school grounds ,building overhead bridges
  • Construction of ammunition dumps
  • Printing of driving licenses
  • Information was  revealed in Parliament  

By Easwaran Rutnam  



The Government allocated over Rs. 1.5 billion for the Army in the year 2021 for nation-building tasks which included the construction of buildings for State institutions, flyovers for schools, and ‘Sanghawasa’ for temples, documents tabled in Parliament revealed.  The annual performance report of the Army for the year 2021, tabled in parliament and published as a public document, revealed that a total of Rs. 1,520,688,171.40 had been allocated to the Army in the year 2021 by various Ministries.  The work carried out included printing driving licenses, renovating the official residence of the then Minister of Justice and carrying out development projects under the “Gama Samaga Pilisandara” Programme.  Following the end of the war in 2009 the Army had been given additional roles by the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to carry out nation-building activities.  The move drew strong criticism from some sections of society as it saw the war heroes being converted into road construction workers and gardeners. The impression was given that the troops were doing a service to the nation by carrying out additional duties and helping the Government reduce expenditure.  
However, as per the audited performance report of the Army in 2021 when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was both President and Minister of Defence, the Government allocated huge sums of money for the Army to carry out its nation-building tasks.  

As part of the funds allocated by the Presidential Secretariat, troops constructed a flyover opposite the Middeniya Primary School for Rs. 18,327,291.44, renovated the Haldamulla Kumarathanna Public Ground in Badulla for Rs. 1,398,934.35 and renovated the Halmillewa Viharasthanaya in Kebithigollewa for Rs. 2,127,346.00.  A number of other projects were also carried out utilizing the funds allocated by the Presidential Secretariat.  The Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, allocated funds to Army to sew uniforms for the National Cadet Corps for a sum of Rs. 964,188.35, maintain the vehicles of the then Chief of Defence Staff Office for Rs. 800,000.00, and construct an ammunition dump complex in Punani for Rs. 269,521,432.65.  
The report also reveals that the Army printed driving licenses for Rs. 391,095,354.78 using funds allocated by the Department of Motor Traffic.  
The Defence Ministry had announced in January 2021 that in a project that will save state funds, the Sri Lanka Army commenced the printing of National Driving Licenses following a special Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Commissioner General of the Motor Traffic Department and the then Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Army.  
The printing of driving licenses was earlier carried out by a private firm, in collaboration with an overseas company, as a joint venture.  
In November 2020, the Sri Lanka Army established the first Army Engineers Division, aimed at centralizing coordination, undertaking, distribution and execution of all nation-building engineering tasks.  
Then Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva noted the important role played by Army engineers to reconstruct and rehabilitate key roads and carry out other construction work and help develop the country.  
The 2021 performance report of the Army tabled in Parliament noted that the Sri Lanka Army, being the largest readily available organization which is inherently competent and disciplined, will continue to support the government in its holistic effort towards nation-building, heritage preservation and achieving reconciliation aimed at sustainable peace and economic development, assuring the progress of the nation.  The report notes that the human resource in the Sri Lanka Army has been effectively deployed in a way of enhancing their professionalism and obtaining optimum abilities of Officers and Other Ranks.  
Accordingly, the Sri Lanka Army is capable of successfully implementing vaccination programmes in order to protect citizens from Covid-19 pandemic, providing an active contribution to Nation Development Projects in accordance with the ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ of the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and initiating a green agriculture mission.  
The report says the Sri Lanka Army succeeds in implementing the restructuring process through efficient and effective troops management as per the ‘Sri Lanka Army Way Forward Strategy 2020 - 2025 (SLAWFS 2020 - 2025)’.  
Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne could not be reached for comment.