The President's House will be exempt from power outages lasting 13 hours, as the rest of Sri Lanka grapples with an economic crisis.
A list released by the Public Utilities Commission has detailed 191 areas where there will be no power cuts. The list includes The President's house, Parliament and several houses where members of parliament live, all of which will not be affected by the islandwide powercuts. Several military hospitals are included in the list, among key infrastructure and utility buildings such as hospitals and power stations. The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will impose a 13-hour power cut on Thursday 31 March, as fuel shortages cripple energy production across the island. The record power outage comes as the island faces its worst economic crisis in decades. A shortage in forex reserves coupled with an increase in inflation has led to an increased cost of living for many across the island and shortages of many necessities as vendors are unable to source dollars to purchase imports. Queues for fuel and protests against the rise in food prices have rocked the Rajapaksa regime which has presided over the mismanagement of the country's economy and racked up levels of debt that the IMF describes as "unsustainable".
As Sri Lanka struggles with its worst economic crisis, the President has looked to the global Tamil Diaspora to invest in the cash-stricken country. However many across the world remain wary as repression of the Tamil people continues on the island.
The Eelam Tamil diaspora, estimated to be more than one-million strong, is spread across the globe and have been instrumental in leading campaigns for justice and accountability for war-time atrocities.
Several Tamil activists commented on the President's appeal,
"This is all just a farce," said Theepan*, a Tamil rights activist based in Switzerland. “After forcing us out of our homeland, torturing, raping and killing us, now the Sri Lankan state needs our help."
“They’re oppressing our people with one hand and pleading for our money with the other,” said Nades*, a British Tamil activist who has been involved in political campaigns for several years.
“Our money is better spent directly supporting grass-root causes, as we have done for decades now,” added Theepan pointing to the hundreds of charities, village and school associations, as well of places of worships across the North-East that receive regular diaspora funding. Millions of dollars are estimated to flow to the island through these organisations every year.
“Many Tamils already have a great connection to the homeland,” said Theepan. “It is the Sri Lankan state that stops and blocks those connections and investment, through militarisation, land grabs and vilification of the diaspora.”
Several senior figures in the Sri Lankan government, from the current foreign minister to the reigning Rajapaksa siblings have repeatedly spoken out against the Tamil diaspora in the past. Indeed, amongst Sinhala politicians in the south, including those seen to be more liberal, the spectre of the Tamil diaspora has repeatedly been raised to inflame Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist sentiment.
“Now this racist, criminal state wants our money,” Theepan added.
See the full list below.