Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaska declared a state of emergency over food shortages as banks ran out of foreign exchange to finance imports. He named a top army officer as “Commissioner General of Essential Services” to coordinate the limited supply of paddy, rice, sugar and other groceries. Long queues have formed outside stores and supermarkets. Many shelves are already empty. Milk powder and cooking oil are virtually impossible to get.
People have also had to wait for hours to fill their motorbikes, rickshaws and cars with gasoline. The energy minister has appealed to motorists to use fuel sparingly, warning that it could be rationed by the end of the year unless consumption was reduced.
The Asian country is suffering from the economic fallout of the pandemic. The economy shrank 3.6 percent last year. And even though growth has returned, the money shortage means that the government cannot even buy enough medicine to supply its hospitals.
Sri Lanka has received 787 Mmillion dollars from the International Monetary Fund and 150 million dollars from the Bangladesh Central Bank. This was all part of an effort to boost the struggling nation’s foreign exchange reserves which have been depleted as it struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The kind of funding that the IMF has sent to the island is called a “Special drawing Rights” it’s a special kind of international reserve asset and its very rarely used last in 2009.
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