Sri Lanka declares Food Emergency

Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency over food shortages on August 31, 2021 after private banks in the country ran out of foreign exchange to finance imports.

Highlights

  • Sri Lanka is suffering from a hard-hitting economic crisis. Following the crisis, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered emergency regulations to counter the hoarding of sugar, rice and other such essential foods.
  • President also named a top army officer as “Commissioner General of Essential Services to coordinate the supply of paddy, rice, sugar and other consumer goods”.
  • This move followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes. Price rise was supplemented by long queues outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, cooking gas and kerosene oil.
  • Government also increased penalties for food hoarding.
  • But shortages of food come as Sri Lanka battles a fierce coronavirus wave, claiming more than 200 lives a day.

Economy of Sri Lanka

Economy of Sri Lanka reduced by a 3.6 percent in 2020 because of the covid-19 pandemic. In March 2020, government also banned imports of vehicles and other items like edible oils and turmeric in order to save foreign exchange. Central Bank of Sri Lanka also increased interest rates in order to shore up the local currency.

Foreign Reserves of Sri Lanka

Foreign Reserves of Sri Lanka decreased to $2.8 billion as of July, 2021 from $7.5 billion in November 2019. As per data from bank, rupee has lost 20 percent of its value against the US dollar in the same period.

Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was successful in handling the first wave covid-19 pandemic. However, it failed to handle second and third waves of the pandemic. This resulted into surge in COVID-19 deaths since November 2020. As of August 2021, Sri Lanka has become the country with fourth-largest daily deaths worldwide by population. Other three countries are Georgia, Tunisia, and Malaysia.

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