Sri Lanka is troubled by the economic crisis, President declared emergency
Sri Lanka is troubled by the economic crisis, President declared emergency

Starting on April 1, Sri Lanka‘s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency. It comes amid growing discontent among citizens over the way the government has handled the nation’s worst economic crisis in decades.

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During the emergency, he said the goal is to protect the public order and ensure that essential supplies and services are maintained. A country of 22 million is facing acute shortages of essential goods, price hikes, and power outages as it finds itself in the most serious recession since it gained independence from Britain in 1948.

After violent protests outside President Rajapaksa’s residence, the Sri Lankan police imposed an overnight curfew in several parts of Colombo early Friday morning.

Generally, a state of emergency is declared by the President through a proclamation pursuant to Article 155 of the Constitution. A court cannot overturn the President’s declaration. The presidential proclamation only has a one-month validity. Parliament has to approve it within 14 days. If not approved, the declaration will be canceled.

Despite a draconian law, the military has been able to detain and arrest suspects without trial for longer periods than before.

A major intelligence failure threatened both the president and his wife, according to two government ministers. According to Keheliya Rambuquela, the health minister in Colombo, President Sirisena and his wife are at home.

“We received information about a demonstration, but there was no indication it would be violent. There was an intelligence failure.” Deputy Minister of Transportation Dilum Amunugama said the unrest was caused by terrorists.

The pandemic of COVID-19 has exacerbated Sri Lanka’s situation. Economists say the situation is aggravated by mismanagement of the government and accumulated borrowing over the years.

Increased inflation

Colombo’s inflation rate reached 18.7 percent in March, marking the sixth month in a row with the highest inflation rate. There was a record increase of 30.1 percent in food prices.

A sweeping ban on imports was imposed by Colombo in March 2020 in order to save foreign exchange, to repay about $7.0 billion this year to pay off its $51 billion debt.

In recent days, diesel shortages in Sri Lanka have sparked protests at empty pumps because of shortages since Thursday. The state power monopoly has begun implementing 13-hour power cuts every day, as there is not enough diesel for generators.

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Numerous government hospitals aren’t performing routine surgeries due to a lack of life-saving drugs. It is believed that the government is looking to the IMF for financial assistance as well as more loans from India and China.

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