In a statement, former Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, urged the government to release a report on the current dire economic situation in Sri Lanka, stating that “silence will not help”.
The government last released a report on 23 March, but this is argued to be outdated given the pressures of the current coronavirus pandemic. Sri Lanka is saddled with a 3 billion USD debt this and this is expected to increase to 10 billion in 2023. Sri Lanka’s debt service was at 87% of GDP and is expected to increase to 93% by the end of 2020 and reach 100 per cent in 2021.
Commenting on the dire economic situation, Wickremesinghe stated:
“CNN recently came up with a list of countries that are unable to settle their debts. These included countries like Argentina, Lebanon and Ecuador. According to global indicators, Sri Lanka too could fall into this category. Last month, Fitch ratings put Sri Lanka into “s-minus” based on debt settlement. Morgan Stanley Ratings is expected to push Sri Lanka into a minus status too”.
Much of the economic hardship has fallen on Tamil communities in the north and east who are pushed to the point of starvation. Throughout the curfew, there has been an increase in militarisation accompanied by an increase in arrests and difficulty accessing relief. Many people in the North-East, who have been promised of an emergency fund of Rs.5,000.00 per family, have not been given those funds and are at risk of starvation.
Responding to these economic issues, Wickremesinghe has called on the government to expand “short-term export earnings” and introduce import concessions for manufacturing industries.
Read more from the Daily Mirror.