Eran Wickramaratne

Data defends MP Wickramaratne on defence budget


When considering the Ministry of Defence, we spent 7% of the total budget for 2022 on it [Ministry of Defence] ... 60% of that goes to pay wages…Sri Lanka is one out of ten countries that has the greatest number of soldiers per 100 citizens. If we take 200 countries, we are in the first 10. Sri Lanka is a country that has around 1.5 soldiers for every 100 citizens.

Parliament YouTube page | November 14, 2023



Fact Check

During the Budget 2024 debates, MP Wickramaratne made three claims in relation to the budget allocations for defence. They are: (1) budget allocation for the Ministry of Defence (MoD)is high, at 7% of the total budget in 2022; (2) of which, 60% of the expenditure is used to pay wages; and (3) Sri Lanka has one of the highest soldiers to citizen ratios in the world (top 10).

To evaluate the MP’s claim, consulted the 2023 Budget Estimates and data from the World Bank.

Claim 1: Government expenditure on the MoD was 7.97% of total expenditure in 2022; and the allocation for 2023 was 7% of the total budget (Exhibit 1).

Claim 2: Expenditure on personnel emoluments, including salaries and wages, overtime, and allowances, amounted to 69.8% of the total expenditure of the MoD in 2022, and the allocation for 2023 was 62.9% (Exhibit 1).

The MP seems to have cited the approximate expenditure figures for 2023 instead of 2022, as he stated. The expenditure figures for 2022 were even higher, supporting his overall claims on expenditure.

Claim 3: The colloquial term “soldiers” was interpreted by as “armed forces personnel”. The latest available global data from the World Bank on armed forces personnel is for 2020. Calculations from that data show that Sri Lanka had 1.45 armed forces personnel per 100 citizens in 2020, which was the 9th highest in the world (Exhibit 2).

The data supports all three claims of the MP that (a) a high percentage of the budget is spent on defence, (b) a high percentage of that expenditure goes towards salaries and wages; and (c) Sri Lanka’s armed forces personnel per capita is among the 10 highest in the world.

Therefore, we classify his statement as TRUE.

Exhibit 1: Government expenditure on Ministry of Defense (2022 and 2023)

Exhibit 2: Armed forces personnel (2020)


Budget Estimates 2023, Ministry of Finance, available at:

Armed Forces Personnel, Total, World Bank, available at:

Population, Total, World Bank, available at:

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