STF to be used for UN peacekeeping operations

Thursday, 2 February 2017 00:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Government yesterday approved a proposal to procure equipment worth Rs. 864.08 million for the Police’s Special Task Force to be deployed on a United Nations peacekeeping mission. 

The Cabinet approved a proposal made by Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka to procure arms and ammunition as well as military, medical and other goods to deploy a 380-member team of Police personnel. 

The estimated cost of the procurement is to be reimbursed by the UN under a ‘Wet Lease Reimbursement System’ where Sri Lanka will provide major equipment and maintenance, the Cabinet paper said. 

Justifying the deployment of personnel, the Cabinet paper stated that the mission would earn a “considerable contribution to foreign exchange”. However, it failed to specify an exact number and said that it would help in “portraying the professionalism of the Sri Lanka Police and the STF”.

The procurement is to be done through Lanka Logistics and Technologies Ltd, for which additional funds of Rs. 864.33 million have been requested from the Treasury. 

Accordingly, under the project a stock of infantry fighting vehicles of Class II will bought at a cost of Rs. 360 million, and logistics vehicles and equipment at a cost of Rs. 285.40 million. According to the Cabinet paper presented, the expense falls under the project titled ‘Deployment of the Formed Police Unit (FPU)’ for which a total sum of Rs. 1.59 billion has been approved by the Government in May 2016 for the procurement of small arms, ammunition and other equipment. 

The Police is to be first deployed for peacekeeping operations, a FPU comprising up to 200 personnel, followed by a Police Guard Unit (PGU) of 140 personnel and a SWAT team of another 40 members through the Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  

Last week the Government approved a separate proposal made by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs to sign a credit agreement with SBERBANK of Russia to finance the procurement of military equipment from Russian contractors costing $ 50.09 million at an annual interest rate of 3.2%. 

The military equipment to be bought for the Sri Lanka Army is for a peacekeeping mission to “deploy 250 security personnel with major military equipment as well as self-sustainment equipment”.  However, the Cabinet paper did not specify the benefits the country would receive by deploying a UN peacekeeping mission and incurring such a cost.