According to an ex-energy minister, Sri Lanka could run out fuel and food within the next month.
Udaya Gammanpila, who had criticised government policies that have brought the country to the brinks of bankruptcy, was fired earlier this year.
Sky News was informed by the former energy minister that the country’s economic crisis is at a tipping point and could lead to collapse of agriculture, industrial production, and medical services, leading to “anarchy”.
He gave the warning to Sri Lanka‘s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who declared an emergency in the country starting at midnight on Friday night.
It is as Sri Lanka confronts its worst economic crisis.
According to the government notice, the emergency was declared for public safety.
This is the second time that the president has declared an emergency in the last five weeks. He now has broad powers and can control protests.
This latest move follows a general strike in Sri Lanka that brought about a halt to business and transport in Colombo. Police used tear gas and water cannon against protestors.
Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya are both accused of nepotism and blamed for the crisis in Sri Lanka that saw its foreign currency reserves shrink to less than $50m (PS40m). This has left it dependent on the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and India for fuel and food import credit.
Protests by the Rajapaksa brothers for more than a year have been ongoing amid fuel shortages and soaring food and medicine prices.
The finance minister had earlier this week admitted that the country doesn’t have enough money to purchase a single tanker of fuel. This leaves it dependent on an Indian credit line for petrol, diesel, and kerosene.
Sri Lanka is currently in negotiations with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and its major creditors India & China.
Gammanpila was fired in March after he spoke out against the government’s monetary policy. He said that the economic crisis could have dire consequences.
He stated that Sri Lanka currently has no foreign currency reserves.
“There is a danger of fuel shortages in near future, because we have had the advantage of India’s credit card line for the past three months. This provided Sri Lanka with $500m worth petroleum products.”
“That’s being used fully, so there is a danger of running out all types of fuel. It’s almost like a man who has no blood. The body dies. It’s a terrible situation.
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He also warned about food shortages due to the disastrous ban on chemical fertiliser imports. Relying on only organic products led to crop yields falling, making it difficult for an island to produce its own fruit and vegetables. This resulted in dramatic price increases for staples like rice.
“In the near future, Sri Lanka will need to import vegetables, fruits, and grains like rice and maize. We are not able to do this right now due to the shortage of foreign currency. There will be a shortage of food in the next months.
After an emergency cabinet meeting, it was reported that the president asked his brother to resign from his position as prime minister.