Wednesday, 30 July 2003  
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Army to de-list 50,000 deserters

by Ranil Wijayapala

The Sri Lanka Army will commence the de-listing of more than 50,000 of its deserters in the first week of September from the Gampaha district after launching a massive recruitment drive in August, a senior Army official told the Daily News yesterday.

He said the de-listing of Army deserters will begin from the Gampaha district and will be implemented in other districts later.

"The number of Army deserters in the Gampaha district amount to more than 5,000," the official added.

The programme will be implemented at District Secretariat and Divisional Secretariat levels. All Divisional Secretaries will be informed about the number of deserters in their respective areas enabling Army deserters to have their clearance certificates.

The Sri Lanka Army will publish a newspaper advertisement next month in this regard and the deserters will be given a two week period to have their clearance certificate after making due payments (loans obtained from the Government, and respective regiments) to the Divisional Secretariat offices.

"We will be able to consider the extension of this period by another two weeks if there are requests from Army deserters owing to financial constraints in making their payments," he added.

The earlier attempts by the Army to implement this programme was delayed as they expected to implement this program along with the Navy and the Air Force. However, the Commanders of the Navy and Air Force showed reluctance to this programme since the initial cost incurred by the Air Force and the Navy to train their personnel is much higher than that of training soldiers. According to sources, the Army will have to bear a loss of more than Rs.3.9 billion due to its decision to take out around 50,000 deserters from its lists without charging the basic and initial training costs from them.

According to the Sri Lanka Army, it has to spend nearly Rs.19,650 for the initial issues of a soldier like uniforms and other materials.

The Army spends between Rs.15,000 to 20,000 to provide basic training for a soldier and another Rs.69,903 to provide them with initial training.

However, the cost incurred in providing training for a Army officer is much higher than the amount spent for training a soldier. Out of nearly 60,000 deserters, around 500 are officers.

Of the total deserters 67 per cent have deserted the Army soon after their basic training.

They have recorded less than one-year service. Another 12 per cent of deserters have recorded only five to six year services in the Army.

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