"We are going to die": Food shortages increase Sri Lanka's difficulties

“We are going to die”: Food shortages increase Sri Lanka’s difficulties – Mail Bonus

The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has warned of a food shortage as the island nation is facing a devastating economic crisis and has promised that the government will buy enough fertilizer for the next planting season to increase yields.

A decision by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in April last year to ban all chemical fertilizers significantly reduced yields, and although the government has reversed the ban, no significant imports have yet taken place.

“While it may not be time to get fertilizer for this Yala (May-August) season, steps are being taken to ensure adequate supplies for the Maha (September-March) season,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a Twitter message. late. on Thursday.

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

Rajapaksa appointed nine new representatives to the government on Friday, including in key health, trade and tourism ministries. But he did not name the finance minister and it is likely that Wickremesinghe will keep the portfolio.

Sri Lanka, which is dependent on tourism, is facing a severe shortage of currency, fuel and medicines, and economic activity has declined.

“It does not make sense to talk about how difficult life is,” said APD Sumanavathi, a 60-year-old woman who sells fruit and vegetables at the Pettah Market in Colombo, the capital of business. “I can not predict how things will be in two months, at this speed we could not even be here.

A long queue had formed nearby in front of a shop selling cooking gas canisters, but their price has risen to almost 5,000 rupees ($ 14) from 2,675 rupees in April.

“Only about 200 cylinders were delivered, even though there were about 500 people,” said Mohammad Shazly, a part-time driver in the queue on the third day, hoping to cook for his family of five.

“Without gas, without kerosene, we can do nothing,” he said. “The last choice what? Without food we will die. It will happen one hundred percent.”

The governor said on Thursday that the currency had been secured by a loan from the World Bank and repayments to pay for fuel and cooking gas shipments, but stocks were still to flow through.

Inflation could rise to a staggering 40% in the coming months, but it was largely driven by pressure on the supply side and the Bank’s and the government’s actions were already reducing demand inflation, the central bank governor said.

Inflation was 29.8% in April and food prices rose by 46.6% between years.

As anger against the government spread, police fired tear gas and water cannons to push hundreds of protesters back in Colombo on Thursday. Protesters are demanding that the president and prime minister be ousted.

The economic crisis comes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit tourism, rising oil prices and popular tax cuts by the government of President Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, who resigned as prime minister last week.

Critics accuse Wickremesinghe, who has been appointed prime minister in his place, of being a client of the brothers, an allegation he denies.

Other factors have been heavily subsidized domestic prices for fuel and the decision to ban the import of chemical fertilizers.

A group of seven economies is supporting efforts to repay Sri Lanka’s debt, the group’s CFOs said on Thursday in a draft memorandum from a meeting in Germany after Sri Lanka’s debt repayments.

Governor P. Nandalal Weerasinghe has said that debt restructuring plans are nearing completion and that he will submit a proposal to the government soon.

“We are in prevention payments,” he said. “Our position is very clear, until there is a debt restructuring, we can not pay back.”

A spokesman for the International Monetary Fund said he was following developments closely and that a virtual mission to Sri Lanka was expected to conclude technical talks on a possible loan program on May 24.

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