4 MARCH 2022
PROTESTS IN SRI LANKA
In Sri Lanka, all Cabinet Ministers resigned amid ranging protests demanding President Rajapaksa to resign and to form a “caretaker government”.
The government has been entirely controlled by the Rajapaks’s family.
Defying a curfew imposed by the government, opposition parties and several student groups took to the streets shouting slogans against the misadministration that led to the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa accused the government of “resorting autocratic measures and dictatorship to silence people’s voices in Sri Lanka”.
Earlier, hundreds of protesters gathered and shouted slogans outside Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence.
Police fired teargas and water cannons to disperse the crowd as the nation’s economic crisis worsened.
The island nation experienced the worst crisis due to acute foreign currency deficiency as the tourism sector has been witnessing a grim slowdown during the pandemic.
In Sri Lanka, economists and opposition leaders accused the government for its mismanagement. Sri Lanka has been witnessing a severe economic crisis. High inflation, shortage of fuel, cooking gas and food led to resentment in the island nation.
Government Hospitals are facing shortage of medicines and have stopped surgeries as they are facing acute shortage of life saving medicines.
Education ministry announced that school principals have been allowed to bring in students for only term examinations due to non- availability of diesel.
The announcement of a 13-hour power cut fuelled public anger in the island nation.
Earlier Sri Lanka imposed an import ban last year in a bid to save foreign currency to service $51 billion foreign debt.
Meanwhile the government is trying to take assistance from India and the IMF.
“In a situation like this, things cannot be done at a normal pace. Everything must be fast-tracked. The recently finalised Indian credit line of $1 billion for essential imports would be operationalized very soon,” recognising Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said during his recent visit to Sri Lanka on 30 March 2022.
India has signed several agreements including the Joint development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farms, Energy Projects of NTPC, $500 million loan deferment and $ 500 million credit line for fuels recently.
In 2007, Mahindra Rajapaksa, the then President started taking loans and now China accounts for nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt.
In 2019 Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into power and introduced tax cuts and started printing more money leading to high inflation. Due to the pandemic, the tourism industry, the main source of income was badly affected and it became impossible to borrow from international markets,” as many opposition leaders blame.