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“We will die”: Food shortages add to Sri Lanka’s predicament

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The Prime Minister of Colombo-Sri Lanka warned of food shortages as the island nation fought a devastating economic crisis and the government vowed to buy enough fertilizer for the next planting season to increase yields.

Last April, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa decided to ban all fertilizers, significantly reducing crop yields. The government has lifted the ban, but no substantive imports have yet taken place.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a Twitter message, “We may not have time to get fertilizer for this Yarra (May-August) season, but we will have enough stock for the Maha (September-March) season. Measures have been taken for this. ” On thursday.

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“I sincerely urge everyone to accept the seriousness of the situation.”

Rajapaksa appointed nine new members to the Cabinet on Friday, including important Ministry of Health, Trade and Tourism. However, he does not appoint a finance minister and the portfolio may be held by Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lanka, which relies on tourism, faces a serious shortage of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines, and its economic activity is slowing down.

APD Sumanavathi, a 60-year-old woman who sells fruits and vegetables at the Pettah market in Colombo, the commercial center, said: “We can’t predict what’s going on in two months. At this rate, we may not be here.”

Nearby, there was a long line in front of a store selling cooking gas cylinders, the price of which soared from 2,675 rupees in April to nearly 5,000 rupees ($ 14).

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“Even though there were about 500 people, only about 200 cylinders were delivered,” said a part-time driver on the third day hoping to cook for a family of five. One Mohammad Shazley said.

“Without gas, without kerosene, we can’t do anything,” he said. “What is the last option? Without food we would die. It would happen a hundred percent.”

Central bank governors said Thursday that foreign exchange was secured from World Bank loans and remittances to pay for fuel and cooking gas transportation, but supply is still flowing.

Inflation could rise to a staggering 40% in the coming months, driven primarily by supply pressure, with banking and government measures already curbing demand inflation. The governor said.

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Inflation reached 29.8% in April and food prices rose 46.6% year-on-year.

G7 support for relief

As anger spread over the government, police fired tear gas and water canons on Thursday to push back hundreds of student protesters in Colombo. Opposition parties are demanding the expulsion of the president as well as the prime minister.

The economic crisis came from the confluence of President Rajapaksa and his brother, Mahinda’s government, who resigned as prime minister last week, hit the COVID-19 pandemic, rising oil prices, and mass tax cuts.

Critics have accused Wickle Messinge, who was appointed prime minister on his behalf, as a brother’s minion, and he denies it.

Other factors include large subsidies for domestic fuel prices and a decision to ban the import of chemical fertilizers.

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The Group’s seven economic powers are supporting efforts to provide debt relief to Sri Lanka, a group finance officer said Thursday in a draft communiqué from a meeting in Germany after Sri Lanka failed to meet its sovereign debt. Stated.

Central bank chief P. Nandalal Weerasinge said the debt restructuring plan was almost complete and would soon submit a proposal to the cabinet.

“We are in a preemptive default,” he said. “Our position is very clear. We cannot repay until the debt is restructured.”

A spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund said the development was being monitored very closely and that the virtual mission to Sri Lanka is expected to end technical talks on possible lending programs on May 24. ($ 1 = 355.0000 Sri Lankan Rupee)

(Additional report by Uditha Jayasinghe and Sudarshan Varadhan, written by Raju Gopalakrishnan, edited by Robert Birsel)

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“We will die”: Food shortages add to Sri Lanka’s predicament

Source link “We will die”: Food shortages add to Sri Lanka’s predicament

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